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Court rejects prayer lawsuit

A federal appeals court threw out on April 14 a lawsuit from a Madison group claiming that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

District Judge Barbara Crabb of Madison had agreed with Madison's Freedom from Religion Foundation that the prayer day be halted. But three members of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago disagreed and dismissed the Foundation's lawsuit.

They said the group had no legal standing in the matter. Chief appeals judge Frank Easterbrook said the annual proclamation does not force anyone to pray. And he said neither the Freedom from Religion Foundation nor anybody else is hurt by rejecting the president's request to pray.

Foundation attorney Rebecca Markert said her group is troubled by the appellate court's decision. She said they would seek a ruling from the full appellate court. Congress started the National Day of Prayer in the early 1950s. In 1988, it was scheduled for the first Thursday in May.