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Back to Nov. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 238 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS NOVEMBER 2005

Judge Strikes Down Pledge Again
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A federal judge in California ruled on September 14 that public-school-led recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The case was the second lawsuit brought by atheist Michael A. Newdow, who objects to the words "under God," and hopes to silence all schoolchildren from reciting the Pledge.

Newdow won his first lawsuit against the Pledge in 2002 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court last year ducked deciding it by saying that Newdow lacked standing because of custodial issues with his daughter's mother. When Newdow filed his second suit this year, he bolstered his cause by including two other sets of parents as co-plaintiffs.

Attacks on the Pledge have prompted a rebuttal from Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington. He said, "Unbelievers do not have to recite the pledge, or engage in any religiously tainted practice of which they disapprove. They also, however, do not have the right to impose their atheism on all those Americans whose beliefs now and historically have defined America as a religious nation."

When Congress adjourned for the year 2004, the U.S. Senate had failed to vote on the Pledge Protection Act sponsored by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in September by 247 to 173. The bill uses Congress's Article III power to withdraw jurisdiction over the Pledge from the courts.


 
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