Fed. Judge: Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional


A federal Judge in California, in a suit brought by three plaintiffs and organized by Michael Newdow, has declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was declared unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge ruling in the second attempt by an atheist to have the pledge removed from classrooms. The man lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge’s reference to one nation “under God” violates school children’s right 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 Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

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.

Karlton, ruling in Sacramento, 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, where the plaintiffs’ children attend.

The decision sets up another showdown over the pledge in schools.

The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case, said it would immediately appeal the case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. 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.

What hogwash! Children are free from a coercive requirement to affirm God. They can just not say the words “under God” if they have a problem with it. I am sure this will be overruled by the Supreme Court, but it is people like Michael Newdow who want to undermine American values.

6 thoughts on “Fed. Judge: Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional

  1. Well, Anna, how does your freedom superceide Mr. Newdow’s? When framed in that myopic POV, the point is always missed.The issue is whether or not an institution of government, in this case a public school, can advocate a religious point of view of any kind. And by allowing an oath to be recited in which a deity is acknowledged, it acts in a coercive manner. The gracious host of this blog also seems to have forgotten the power of peer pressure and its effects on a young mind.Now, if public schools (and the government) remained neutral about religion, meaning that it allowed a moment of silence during which time a student can do what he/she pleases (including sleep), that I find unobjectionable and indeed a good idea.

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  2. Howard,This is not about religion, although it seems to be on its face. This is a challenge to America by people who are opposed to its culture. How many people in this country do you think have a problem reciting the pledge with the words, “under God” in it. I know, you are going to tell me we have to respect the rights of minorities. Well, we do. But we also have to be protected from a tyrannical minority.I daresay that when most people recite the Pledge they are not thinking of a deity or affirming the existence of one. By the way, it isn’t the recognition of one’s personal deity that the Pledge acknowledges. It is an acknowledgement that the United States was formed with, and continues to operate under, Judeo-Christian values.When an atheist uses American money, do they consider the words, “In God we trust” to be an affirmation of their personal belief in a diety?This is all so foolish and is really an attack on the values of the United States.

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  3. Howard, It is not just my freedoms. It is also part of our heritage. Is Newdow going to have most of the monuments, not to mention the entire front facade of the Supreme Court building, in Washington, DC sand-blasted because they have the word God somewhere on them. He is already trying to get the words “In God We Trust” off of all currency. BTW, my daughter’s school does have a moment of silence every morning, but they have also been known to recite the pledge and we have not had the walls come caving in because no one found it particularly offensive, since those who are uncomfortable saying “under God” are not required to say it.

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  4. Hi Gary and Anna,Yes, this is about religion, and the free exercise thereof. And no, it’s not about culture, at least not from my POV. You righties are over the top with this culture thing. Blue vs. red. Left vs. right. The right won in 2004 by 52%. That’s hardly a cataclysmic shift.Another “fact” overlooked by all media (left and right) is that “values” as a deciding factor in the election was cited by 21%. So the talking heads draw the conclusion that values is the “it” thing in politics. What everyone forgot, and the Economist magazine reminded us of, is that in 2000 some 35% chose “values” as the deciding factor in who people voted for. And in 1996 it was 44%.Meaning values as a deciding factor has DIMINISHED in importance. People have relegated values to a more minor level of importance in chosing a candidate since 1996. This values thing is overblown.So religion in schools, citing “under God” in an oath (which, by the way, was added in the 1950s by an act of Congress in a hysterical reaction to the “communist threat”) and intelligent design, to name just a few examples, are very much issues. The right is succeeding is changing the subject from things that matter to this society (healthcare for everyone, teaching science in schools to keep our kids competitive, fair taxation) to things that matter only to a small minority of fundamentalists.That’s a far more serious threat to our culture than an athiest challenging the state’s use of an oath that promotes religion.

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  5. Howard,Yes, removing the words, “under God” from the Pledge is not going to shake the foundations of this country, but it goes to further coarsening of the fabric of the nation, as does all of this avid partisanship that has been exhibited so destructively this past 15 years or so.I take issue with your comment about the Right changing the subject. The principal subject is our survival as a nation, with our distinctive American culture. You may not think that matters, but it is our culture that has made America great. Also, I don’t think that instituting major socialistic transfer programs, raising taxes or having the Federal Government involved in educating our children is going to improve America. The Federal Government should have nothing to do with education of children. That should be the job of local governments. We need less bureaucracy, not more. By keeping taxes low we are bringing in more tax revenue to the Federal Government than raising taxes would, and, in my opinion, the Federal Government should not be involved in providing health care. That should be the purvue of the states, although that won’t happen.I guess you can tell I am not a fan of big central government.

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