Brewer wants challenge to 'day of prayer' dismissed - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer wants challenge to 'day of prayer' dismissed

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Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 5:42 pm

Gov. Jan Brewer wants a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit designed to stop her from declaring a “day of prayer,’’ arguing that no one is required to participate.

Lawyers for the governor said there is a fundamental flaw with the claim filed by members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation: They cannot show any specific or concrete injury they suffer because of what Brewer has done in the past and might do in the future. Attorney Joe Kanefield, who is leading the team, told U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver that leaves her no option but to conclude that there is nothing on which she can rule.

There is precedent for what Kanefield is asking.

The same group filed suit last year to block President Barack Obama from declaring a “day of prayer’’ on the national level, something the president is required to do by federal law. While a trial judge agreed, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the case, saying the challengers lack standing to sue.

Brewer, in a prepared statement, said she hopes Silver follows suit.

“This lawsuit represents nothing more than a sad and futile attempt to stifle and American right and tradition,’’ the governor said.

Matthew Benson, her press aide, said the bottom line is that no one is being harmed.

“This is an entirely voluntary event,’’ he said. “And it’s about Americans of every walk of life and every religion coming together, voluntarily, in prayer.’’

Benson brushed aside questions about people who do not believe — and who do not pray.

“Nobody is forced to participate or coerced in any way,’’ he said.

Kanefield, in his arguments to Silver, underlined that point, noting that there are no penalties on those who do not pray.

But Richard Morris, in bringing the lawsuit, said it’s not that simple. He said even a call like this creates harm.

“People who do not believe are considered outsiders,’’ he said.

No date has been set for a hearing on Brewer’s motion.

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