The following article has been re-posted by permission
from Newsmax.com. If you are
not familiar with Newsmax.com, it is our favorite news & opinion journal
on the Internet, with a great variety of topics and authors, and it is
updated at least once daily. We highly recommend you visit their site!
Newdow: Pledge Forces God On
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2005
An atheist seeking to strike the words "under God" from the
Pledge of Allegiance in public schools has won a major battle in his quest
to force the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue again.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton sided with atheist Michael Newdow
in ruling Wednesday that the pledge's reference to God violates the rights
of children in three school districts to be "free from a coercive
requirement to affirm God."
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Newdow that the pledge is
unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The latest decision could set up another church-state showdown at a time
when the Supreme Court is in flux. John Roberts, who would succeed the
late William H. Rehnquist as chief justice, is undergoing confirmation
hearings; and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring when a successor
The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked
standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter
he sued on behalf of.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on
behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those
families have the right to sue.
Newdow is hoping to get the high court to remove the pledge's reference
to God and restore its pre-1954 wording, "one nation indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."
"All it has to do is put the pledge as it was before, and say that
we are one nation, indivisible, instead of dividing us on religious basis,"
Newdow told The Associated Press.
Karlton said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation
of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary
school districts in Sacramento County, where the plaintiffs' children
The order would not extend beyond those districts unless it is affirmed
by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which case it could apply to nine
western states, or the Supreme Court, which would apply to all states.
Superintendent Steven Ladd of Elk Grove Unified School District said
the pledge will be recited until the school receives the judge's restraining
order, which could happen any day.
"Our board has long supported the Pledge of Allegiance as an appropriate
patriotic exercise for willing students," he said.
Karlton, appointed to the Sacramento bench by President Carter, wrote
that the case concerned "the ongoing struggle as to the role of religion
in the civil life of this nation" and added that his opinion "will
satisfy no one involved in that debate."
In the Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling dismissing Newdow's previous case,
justices Rehnquist, O'Connor and Clarence Thomas accused the majority
of using Newdow's standing to dodge the harder constitutional issue. In
their dissent, they said they would have upheld "under God"
The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case,
said it would immediately appeal the case to the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals. If the court does not change its precedent, the group would go
to the Supreme Court.
"It's a way to get this issue to the Supreme Court for a final decision
to be made," said fund attorney Jared Leland.
The decisions by Karlton and the appeals court conflict with an August
opinion by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. That
court upheld a Virginia law requiring public schools lead daily Pledge
of Allegiance recitation, which is similar to the requirement in California.
Professors, politicians, pundits, religious groups and others immediately
weighed in on the latest decision. Richard Ellis, a Willamette University
politics professor who wrote "To the Flag: The Unlikely History of
the Pledge of Allegiance," said the stakes are high.
"For some people, the pledge is a statement that the United States
is a chosen nation, that the United States is a nation under God, that
it is God's chosen nation," Ellis said. "For others," he
said, "it reflects their belief in God."
For Newdow, that's precisely the problem.
"Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up,
place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that
denies God exists,"' he said.
"I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what
harm is that?' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against
atheists. And it shouldn't."
Got something to say about this article? Want to agree
(or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast
Thanks for stopping by!