Quote of the Day - The Pledge of Allegiance simply reinforces the beliefs that led to the birth of our great nation. It is an oath of our fidelity to our country, and I am disappointed that the court chose to rule against this American treasure.”
- Dennis Hastert
Remember the national uproar when the Ninth Circuit ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? Athiest Michael Newdow challenged his daughter's school district's requirement to recite the pledge? Newdow holds medical and law degrees and claims to be an ordained minister. He will argue the case himself.
His daughter's mother, Sandra Banning, has no objection to the Pledge, which confuses things even more.
A confluence of events may allow the ruling to stand. Justice Anton Scalia will recuse himself from the case due to his comments that criticized the ruling. That would likely lead to a 4-4 deadlock on the court.
Moreover, the Court has already gone on record with a series of rulings that would appear to uphold this ruling. The Supreme Court has already said that schoolchildren cannot be required to recite the oath that begins, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." That case arose out of the Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs against the pledge.
The court has also repeatedly barred school-sponsored prayer from classrooms, playing fields and school ceremonies.
The First Amendment guarantees that government will not "establish" religion. That prohibition created a general ban on overt government sponsorship of religion in public schools and other forums.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court itself begins each of its sessions with the phrase "God Save the United States and this honorable court." The Declaration of Independence refers to God or to the creator four different times. Congress and many other legislatures around the country begin each session each day with a prayer. Our currency - inluding the new peach-colored 20-dollar bills - contains the phrase, "In God We Trust."
The phrase "under God," however, was not part of the original pledge adopted by Congress as a patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress inserted the phrase more than a decade later, in 1954, when the cold war was in full swing.
Supporters (a la' Senator Joe McCarthy) of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism.