Reciting Pledge in school once again declared unconstitutional.

Get ready for round two. Looks like Michael Newdow has managed to get a judge to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional pretty much ensuring the issue will once again come 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.

Unlike last time, however, this case isn’t likely to be dismissed under a technicality as Newdow is representing three unnamed parents and their children.

Newdow hopes that will make it more likely the merits of his case will be addressed by the high court.

“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.

“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,’” Newdow 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.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. With the makeup of the Supreme Court about to shift somewhat it’ll be interesting to see how this ends up playing out. I wonder if we’ll have any more “spontaneous” recitations of the Pledge by a bunch of asshat congressmen this time around?

12 thoughts on “Reciting Pledge in school once again declared unconstitutional.

  1. I don’t want the pledge declared unconstitutional; I want it declared stupid.  A little kid shouldn’t be pledging allegiance to anything.  That’s for adults to do.

    We should spend more time teaching kids why America is worth their affection, and making sure America is worth their allegiance, and less time trying to ram a ritual down their throats.

  2. I agree with the above and would like the pledge banished from schools.  Indoctrinating 4-5 year olds with the religions of blind patriotism and nationalism is exploitation.  At that age, the children are very proud of their developing memorization skills, and they truly know not what they say.  But the pride in their accomplishment of memorization leaves a predictable psychological imprint on them that is long-lasting, and of course, that is the purpose behind the practice.  I pledge no allegiance to any object in the name of any country, and never mind about the “under God” part.  As a theist, no God of mine belongs in this equation.

  3. I’d certainly be a lot happier if we could just drop the whole mandatory pledge bullshit altogether, but there are too many simpletons in this country who seem to think that forcing kids to recite it every day will somehow cure all of society’s problems.

    It’s ironic to me that the argument for forcing recitation is that it promotes a sense of belonging to a community and yet the words “under God” act as a dividing element which has the opposite effect for a good portion of the population.

  4. Down here in Texas folks are hoppin’ mad over this decision.  I don’t think I’ve seen a group of people so upset over something that has absolutely no impact on their lives.

    One local news station went so far as to send a field a reporter to a local elementary school.  Her job consisted of questioning 6-12 year-olds if they found saying the pledge to be offensive.

    Now it’s all propaganda with Christians hitting the airwaves claiming that this will rip the country wide open.  One very excitable minister was even on the air forcefully repeating “

    If we not under god, what are we under?”

    You know this case isn’t going before the SCOTUS until Bush fills both of those vacancies.  Until, the blessed children that cannot recite the ABC’s and have know concept of allegiance, will be spared watching their homes and communities shredded by we infidels.

  5. The decision is correct although the Judge gets the reasoning all wrong. The Constitution says nothing about a “right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.”

    What the Constitution does say is: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .

    The phrase “under God” was inserted into the Pledge by Congress in 1954. It’s obvioulsy a violation of the First Amendment. It’s as simple as that.

  6. My prediction:  The Pledge of Allegiance will be found constitutional. 

    The reasoning:  For over 50 years the Pledge has been said by nearly every child in America.  It is only now, some 50 years after the fact, that an atheist on a mission has challenged it.  Even longer than the 10 commandments stood in TX.  Given that the Pledge’s specific purpose is to enculturate, as opposed to indoctrinate with religion, Newdow is too late.

    Anybody that believes the Court will rule differently, I’m certainly open to a friendly wager.

  7. I’m not going to make a prediction because with the changes due to the court prior to the case ever reaching it there’s just no way to tell. If the Supreme Court sticks to its precedents then I’d expect they’d end up ruling against the Pledge in its current form, at least as a mandatory recitation, but given that Bush is about to place two new judges in place it’s entirely possible that they could just ignore past precedent and say it’s OK.

    The length of time involved, however, has nothing to do with whether or not it should be overturned. Up until the 20th century teacher led prayer in schools was largely non-existent in most states with the exception of Massachusetts which required Bible reading in the schools. By 1914 eleven other states made prayers or Bible reading mandatory in public schools. In many cases those laws stood until the 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions; that’s just this side of 50 years. There are plenty of wrongs that managed to survive for decades prior to their being corrected either through acts of Congress or the Supreme Court. There’s no good reason why this can’t be another one.

  8. To me, the “under God” part is almost a sidenote. What really bothers me is the pledge in its entirety. You shouldn’t have to recite a pledge just to show you’re proud of your country, and we certainly shouldn’t indoctrinate our children into that way of thinking.

    DOF and Zhyndra, you put it succinctly.

  9. As an addendum, I do not think the pledge will be considered unconstitutional. I think courts are more influenced by the long-term trends of a society than is thought in day-to-day business.

    And there simply isn’t any trend to less religion in the public sphere of the US.

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