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|NUMBER 226||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2004|
House Passes Bill To Keep
Pledge Out of Federal Courts
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 247-173 on September 23 to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over cases involving recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
In 2002 the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declared teacher-led recitation of the Pledge in public schools unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Amid overwhelming condemnation by Congress and the public, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed the 9th Circuit decision on a technicality in June this year. However, disappointed plaintiff Michael Newdow has encouraged others to bring similar suits in the future and it is unclear how the Supreme Court would rule on the merits of such a case. (See Education Reporter, Sept. 2004.)
Akin observed that the Supreme Court is likely to rule against the Pledge eventually "if we allow activist judges to start creating law and say that it is wrong to somehow allow schoolchildren to say 'under God' in the Pledge." His bill attracted 226 co-sponsors.
House Democrats opposing the bill in debate said majority Republicans were debasing the Constitution in order to force a vote that could hurt Democrats in the November election. The bill, which does not prevent Pledge cases from being heard in state courts, is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the Senate.