Since when do more than 270 plaintiffs enjoy losing?
Mike Newdow’s email went on to say that the dismissal order in Newdow v. Roberts “now sets us up to file an Appeal as the appellants, thus providing us with the opportunity to submit a 14,000 word Opening Brief and a 7,000 word Reply Brief in the Court of Appeals.”
On March 12, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton dismissed our case challenging the infusion of religion into Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony.
Judge Walton was disingenuous in his ruling that “the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that an injunction against any or all of the defendants could redress the harm alleged suffered by plaintiffs” while at the same time noting in a footnote that the plaintiffs had filed an amended complaint that would (in my opinion) have likely cured any defects. For example, Judge Walton could have: (1) declared the acts of Chief Justice Roberts appending “so help me God” to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath and the Presidential Inaugural Committee for allowing sectarian prayers in the invocation and benediction to be violations of the First Amendment, (2) enjoined the federal defendants and others unnamed in future inaugurals from doing the same and (3) awarded the plaintiffs nominal damages.
Judge Walton also held that our plaintiffs lacked standing because “none of the plaintiffs in this case have standing to challenge the defendants’ actions as pled in the complaint because they have identified no concrete and particularized injury.” This, too, is disingenuous, because the District Court had in its possession over 250 sworn statements alleging injury. Again, the Judge Walton erred.
I have spent many hours researching federal cases in which the court said that a plaintiff who personally witnessed government sponsored prayer lacked standing. To no surprise, the only cases that I have found are Newdow I (Newdow v. Bush, 2001 presidential inaugural), Newdow II (Newdow v. Bush, 2005 presidential inaugural) and now Newdow III (Newdow v. Roberts, 2009 Obama inaugural). Coincidence? Conspiracy?
I have a simple answer. Newdow I, II and III were just too hot to handle.
Newdow (i.e., Newdow III), like its predecessor cases, was too hot for the District Court because, like Abington Township School District v. Schempp, Newdow it would uphold minority rights over majority rule. (Schempp, consolidated with Murray v. Curlett, is the landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision that held school sponsored Bible reading and prayer to be unconstitutional.) And you know about the uproar over little kiddies not being denied their God given right to say their prayers in school. Imagine the excruciating squawking of the megachurches if Mike Newdow and the other plaintiffs win.
As I have said elsewhere, Newdow is foundational – it would take monotheistic (Christian preferred) religion out of the executive branch (where it doesn’t belong anyway). What would be next? Congressional chaplains? “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? The national motto of “In God We Trust”? Or military bands playing “God Bless America”?
The Christian Right can’t afford to lose this one and the courts know it! Or the dominoes will fall.