PHOENIX - A state judge has rejected a bid by several individuals to keep Gov. Jan Brewer from making her annual "Day of Prayer" declaration.
In her brief ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Eileen Willett never addressed the contention by challengers that the governor violated a state constitutional provision barring the use of public money or property "applied to any religious worship."
Attorneys for the challengers argued Brewer acted on public time in issuing the declaration.
Willett said, though, that those contesting the governor's action suffered no "particularized and concrete injury," and did not file their claims as taxpayers.
This is the second defeat for foes, led by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. A federal judge in Arizona last year threw out a similar suit alleging violations of federal constitutional rights.
But attorney Richard Morris said Monday that there are differences between the state and federal constitutions that Willett failed to recognize. He has vowed to appeal.
Morris acknowledged the plaintiffs, who include atheists and people of various faiths, do not suffer a physical harm from Brewer's declaration. The harm, he said, is more intellectual.
"You've got to be on the inside clique of, in this case, the governor's brand of Christianity. Otherwise, the government's discriminating against you," he said.
He said that is why "you've got to have a complete separation between church and state."
But gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson countered, "These days of prayer are voluntary occasions," and those who do not believe are free to ignore the governor's action.