Nearly 10 years ago, in 2002, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.
Chaos ensued, atheist Michael Newdow represented himself in front of the Supreme Court, and the case was ultimately thrown out because the court ruled he didn’t have proper standing (i.e. he didn’t have full custody of his daughter whom he was filing the lawsuit on behalf of) to bring the issue to them.
A couple years later, Newdow tried again, on behalf of additional plaintiffs who did have standing.
The result of the second lawsuit was announced yesterday.
The same Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled 2-1 that the phrase is constitutional.
In the majority opinion, Judge Carlos Bea acknowledged that “the words ‘under God’ have religious significance,” but said they do not “convert the pledge into a prayer.”
The 1954 law that added those words at the height of the Cold War was meant to convey the idea of a limited government, “in stark contrast to the unlimited power exercised by communist forms of government,” said Bea, joined by Judge Dorothy Nelson. “Congress’ ostensible and predominant purpose was to inspire patriotism.”
[Judge Stephen] Reinhardt, a member of the 2002 panel that found the language unconstitutional, said Thursday’s majority ignored overwhelming evidence of religious motivation by the 1954 Congress.
Here’s the decision (PDF).
I’m no lawyer… but seriously, what the hell.
How is inserting “Under God” in the anti-godless/Communist 1950s not religiously motivated?!
What will Newdow do now? He will “ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If it rejects that request, Newdow said he’ll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
None of those options are likely going to work right now, even though the lawsuit has merit.
Hopefully, someone will try again in the future and succeed.
Meanwhile, I’m still not saying the Pledge. I hope you don’t either.