Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court dismissed an atheist’s challenge that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were an endorsement of religion — without actually settling that question one way or the other. I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit that case and its implications.
Michael Newdow (above) filed the lawsuit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in March of 2000 on behalf of his daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time. Newdow argued that the daily recitation of the Pledge was an endorsement of religion by the district and he wanted the courts to rule that the inclusion of the words “Under God” violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
In July, District Judge Peter Nowinski, not surprisingly, disagreed, maintaining that “the Pledge does not violate the Establishment Clause.”
So Newdow appealed. And that’s when all hell broke loose.