Court Allows Rick Perry to Participate in Prayer Event

By Eliza

Jul 28, 2011 3:33pm

ap rick perry sc 110719 wb Court Allows Rick Perry to Participate in Prayer Event

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) reports:

A district court in Houston ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Perry today in a lawsuit trying to keep the Texas governor from participating in the Day of Prayer and Fasting event Aug. 6.

Judge Gray Miller dismissed the case after finding the plaintiffs had no standing and cited a 7th circuit ruling in favor of President Obama promoting a “national day of prayer.”

Perry’s spokesman Mark Miner said the governor is pleased with the court’s decision.

“We are pleased with the Court's ruling, and Governor Perry looks forward to participating in a day of prayer for our nation,” Miner told ABC news in an e-mail.

A spokesman for The Response, the official name for the prayer event, lauded the court decision.

"This is a tremendous victory for the First Amendment, and the right of any and all Americans to assemble and pray without interference from forces hostile
to faith,” Eric Bearse, spokesman for the Response, said.

The lawsuit against Perry was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a state/church watchdog group which believes Perry’s involvement in the event violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The plaintiffs did not want to stop the rally from occurring but wanted the courts to bar Perry from promoting or participating in the event in any capacity. 

Governor Perry was represented by the Texas Attorney General’s office, which argued Perry’s involvement in the prayer event poses no injury to the plaintiffs and there is no need to file an injunction. 

The Texas governor commented on the case in Houston after a bill signing yesterday, telling reporters he hoped the courts will follow the precedent of other national days of prayer.

“It’s in the court system,” Perry said.  “My prayer is that the courts will find the First Amendment is still applicable to governors no matter what they might be doing.  That what we’ve done in the State of Texas or the Governor’s office is appropriate and no different than what George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or President Truman or President Obama have done with a day or prayer.”

The plaintiff’s attorney said they may appeal the ruling.

It is still unclear if Perry will speak at the event.  A spokesman for The Response said it has not been decided whether the Texas governor will speak.  Thus far, 8,000 people have signed up for the Aug. 6 event in Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.

ABC Affiliate KTRK contributed to this reporting

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