A lawsuit demanding Colorado end its annual day of prayer was dismissed Monday by the Colorado Supreme Court.
The suit challenged the prayer proclamations by Colorado’s governors, calling the acts an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
In 2010, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Colorado but lost, so they appealed. The complaint claimed that the proclamations convey “to non-religious Americans that they are expected to believe in God” and to nonbelievers that they are “political outsiders.”
The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, saying that the use of taxpayer funds to issue the proclamation was unconstitutional.
Now, though, the state’s Supreme Court has dismissed those claims.
“Contrary to the court of appeals, the supreme court holds that the use of public funds to cover the incidental overhead costs associated with issuing the honorary proclamations does not, by itself, constitute an injury sufficient to establish taxpayer standing,” the court’s opinion states. “Furthermore, contrary to the trial court, the supreme court holds that the psychic harm endured by Respondents as a result of media coverage revealing the existence of the honorary proclamations does not, by itself, constitute an injury sufficient to establish individual standing.”
Colorado has practiced a statewide day of prayer annualy since 2004, as do most states.
“All Americans – including governors – are free to speak out in recognition of constitutionally protected freedoms, such as prayer,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton said in a statement. “The Colorado Supreme Court was right to keep in place the governor’s freedom to do just that in the form of a prayer proclamation.”
President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution by Congress for a National Day of Prayer in 1952, according to ADF. Congress amended the law in 1988, specifying that the annual event would be observed on the first Thursday in May.
“Public officials remain free to issue such proclamations in the years ahead just as the founders of our country and state of Colorado were free to do,” Norton said in a statement. “This is a freedom not only rooted in our history; it is a constitutionally protected freedom clearly recognized in both state and federal courts.”
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