for The Becket Fund on Jan. 18, 2009
Michael Newdow, the atheist attorney best known for trying to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, announced he is filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to forbid references to God during the presidential inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama, January 20.
Newdow claims the phrase "so help me God" and the invocation prayers by clergy are unconstitutional. Newdow is joined on the complaint by Dan Barker, president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which opposes Newdow in his Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, released the following statement:
"Newdow's lawsuit over the inauguration is a lot like the streaker at the Superbowl: a pale, self-absorbed distraction. And anybody who looks at it carefully can see there's not much there," said Scott Walter, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
"He's tried this twice before, and the courts have rebuffed him both times. The main thing he's changed this year is to add the Chief Justice. That won't make any legal difference. This is more a publicity stunt than a serious lawsuit," Walter added.
The Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a nonpartisan, interfaith, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.