According to an American Humanist Association press release,
Michael Newdow filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting a panel rehearing or for rehearing en banc in the case of Newdow v. Roberts. The case challenges the oath administrator’s addition of the phrase “so help me God” to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath and the inclusion of sectarian prayers in the invocation and benediction of the 2009 inauguration of President Obama and the 2013 and 2017 ceremonies.
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton had ruled on March 12, 2009 that all plaintiffs in Newdow v. Roberts lacked standing to pursue such cases. And on May 7, 2010, a three-judge panel issued an order affirming Judge Walton’s order dismissing the case for lack of standing.
In English, Newdow is requesting a rehearing on his denial for a rehearing.
Now, some schooling on an unsexy part of US law:
In order to bring a law suit in the United States, three things must be true: (1) the plaintiff must have standing, (2) the case must be ripe for review, and (3) the case must not be moot. If any of those three things are not true, the case is dismissed.
The Newdow case has already been dismissed once for lack of standing.
Standing also has three requirements. A person bringing a suit challenging the constitutionality of a law must demonstrate they have suffered an ‘injury in fact.’ Plaintiff must also show the defendant, and not an intervening third party, is harming him. Finally, plaintiff must prove that a favorable decision will solve their injury. In legal terms, standing requires (1) injury, (2) causation, and (3) redressability. The Newdow case was dismissed for lack of standing because Newdow has been unable to prove injury and redressability. In other words, the court is unable to answer “what is Newdow’s injury here”? (The pain in his ears by hearing that toxic word God?) Also, if he wins his case, will his injury be over?
Over the course of my brief time blogging here, I’ve become quite the gambler. I’ll gamble once again on this case:
Newdow has no standing, and the case will again be dismissed. (My apologies for disagreeing with Mr. Ritter of AHA — I’ve worked with him and he is a great attorney and almost always right). The only people with clear and unarguable standing in this case are the elected officials themselves.
Do I believe that the words “so help me God” included in a presidential oath and the inclusion of prayers during a presidential inauguration violate the Establishment Clause? Abso-freakin-lutely. But I also don’t see it getting struck down until an elected president challenges it before his (or HER!) inauguration.
And I’m not holding my breath for that.
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