By Mathew Goldstein
Today the Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against the state's Day of Prayer. They concluded that "the six Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations at issue here are governmental conduct that violates the Preference Clause" of the Colorado constitution. "We reach that conclusion because the purpose of these particular proclamations is to express the Governor’s support for their content; their content is predominantly religious; they lack a secular context; and their effect is government endorsement of religion as preferred over non religion". The judges correctly observe that “religious liberty protected by the Constitution is abridged when the State affirmatively sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer" and 'an individual’s right to choose his or her religion “is the counterpart of [his or her] right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority"'.
The Establishment Clause principle is unpopular and it is absent from the law of many other nations. It is also a valuable legal principle that protects individual liberty and the common welfare. Kudos to the judges for siding with the principle.