Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Scores Major Victory Over Infamous Atheist Group in ‘Day of Prayer’ Court Battle

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) battle to ban Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s annual “Day of Prayer” proclamations has come to a close — at least for now — after the state’s Court of Appeals threw out the atheist group’s complaint.

The judges unanimously ruled that those challenging Brewer can’t claim financial loss as a result of the prayer proclamations, as there is no evidence that they are Arizona taxpayers, the AZ Daily Sun reports. And beyond the financial damage, the court found the claim that psychological damage was inflicted among non-believers is unfounded.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, right, is joined by DPS Col. Robert Halliday, second from right, Chaplain John Fairchild, and SPS Sgt. Jimmy Chavez, left, listen to the U.S. National Anthem during the Fallen Officers Memorial Ceremony at Department of Public Safety Headquarters on Monday, May 6, 2013, in Phoenix. Credit: AP

Noting that “distinct and palpable injury” would need to be proven in order for such a lawsuit to be successfully considered, Judge Donn Kessler noted that such a designation could not be given in this instance.

“The proclamations are not a direct attack on the (challengers’) specific belief systems,” the judge wrote. “Indeed, there is no allegation regarding how the (challengers) even learned about the proclamations or that the alleged harm to them was anything more than a general feeling of second-class citizenship and outside status.”

While these determinations have been made, the legal battle may not yet be over, as atheists are considering an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court — something that could, once again, reignite the battle over Brewer’s “Day of Prayer.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks at a rally attended by mental health professionals and patients to show she has broad support for her proposal to expand Medicaid to about 300,000 more poor Arizonans at the Arizona Capitol, on Thursday, April 11, 2013 in Phoenix. Thursday’s event centers around the governor speaking about expanding Medicaid that will help a vulnerable population that badly needs ongoing treatment. Credit: AP

The AZ Daily Sun provides more about why non-believers are so incensed over the annual proclamation:

Chandler attorney Marc Victor, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of various plaintiffs, religious and otherwise, said an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court is being considered.

The lawsuit claims that Brewer acted on public time and on the public payroll in issuing her annual declaration each May.

Victor also said the state constitution says no Arizonans “shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship, or lack of the same.” He said the governor’s actions “molest” the beliefs of those who do not support a public call to prayer.

In a press release applauding the decision, Brewer thanked the court for its “wisdom.” The governor also noted that she is hopeful that the ruling will end the case once and for all, especially considering the plaintiffs’ continued loss in court over “Day of Prayer” proclamations.

Gov. Jan Brewer unveils a draft version of legislation to expand Medicaid, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Dozens of supporters of the bill stand behind her at the Capitol in Phoenix. Credit: AP

“I applaud the Arizona Court of Appeals for rejecting this needless legal challenge to an American custom and tradition,” she said. “For centuries, Americans of every race, creed and color have voluntarily come together to embrace a founding freedom and pray for wisdom and strength. This is an American tradition, and one I’ve been proud to commemorate each year I’ve been Governor by proclaiming an Arizona Day of Prayer.”

Whether Brewer’s hope that the debate will finally end will be recognized — well, that remains to be seen.

(H/T: AZ Daily Sun)

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