SAN FRANCISCO — The atheist who persuaded a federal appeals court to strike down the Pledge of Allegiance because of the words “under God” has lost a separate bid to abolish prayer at presidential inaugurations.
Michael Newdow argued that the Rev. Franklin Graham’s prayer at President George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
But a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Newdow did not suffer “a sufficiently concrete and specific injury” to pursue his claim. In 2002, a three-judge panel of the same San Francisco court agreed with Newdow that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional when recited in public schools. The Supreme Court will hear the case next month. Newdow challenged the pledge on behalf of his daughter, claiming she was wrongly being exposed to religion in public school.