The Colorado Supreme Court threw out a legal challenge to the governor’s honorary Day of Prayer proclamations Monday, ruling that members of an anti-religion group lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation had sued on behalf of four Colorado residents who objected to the governor’s tradition of declaring a state Day of Prayer on the same day as the National Day of Prayer, calling the practice unconstitutional.
Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, who wrote the opinion on behalf of the 5-2 majority, said that those bringing the lawsuit failed to show that any harm done by the annual proclamation was “injury sufficient to establish individual standing.”
“Although we do not question the sincerity of Respondents’ feelings, without more, their circuitous exposure to the honorary proclamations and concomitant belief that the proclamations expressed the Governor’s preference for religion is simply too indirect and incidental an injury to confer individual standing,” Ms. Rice said in the opinion.
“To hold otherwise would render the injury-in-fact requirement superfluous, as any person who learned of a government action through the media and felt politically marginalized as a result of that secondhand media exposure would have individual standing to sue the government,” she said.
The foundation had previously sued to stop the president from issuing an annual National Day of Prayer proclamation, a challenge that was ultimately rejected by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis of standing in 2011.
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