Just a day after arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, nationally known atheist Michael Newdow has failed in his attempt to stop congressional chaplains from offering prayers on Capitol Hill.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy dismissed the lawsuit brought by Newdow, who has filed a number of cases claiming violations of his constitutional rights, Reuters reported.
While the action is dated yesterday, it was made available on the court’s website today.
In filing his suit, Newdow had hoped to stop congressional chaplains from espousing particular religious dogma as well as take away their taxpayer-supported salaries.
According to the news service’s report, Newdow said he had suffered “personal reproach” from the prayer by the then-Senate Chaplain Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie on June 27, 2002, which was offered in response to Newdow’s winning an appeals court ruling in the Pledge of Allegiance case. He also claimed that on April 11, 2003, the use by a Senate guest chaplain of the phrase “Our God” in a prayer was offensive to him as an atheist.
The atheist, who is an emergency-room doctor, claimed the chaplains’ actions impaired his right to observe government without being forced to “confront religious dogma he finds offensive.”
In rejecting Newdow’s suit, Kennedy cited a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that the Nebraska legislature’s practice of beginning each session with a prayer by a chaplain paid by the state does not violate church-state separation.
This is the latest defeat for Newdow, who also lost a case in which he claimed having a prayer at President Bush’s inauguration violated the Constitution.
Newdow’s Pledge appeal to the Supreme Court culminated in arguments presented yesterday. A decision is expected by the end of June.