Where Will ‘Under God’ Case Go From Here? March 23, 2011

Where Will ‘Under God’ Case Go From Here?

Last we heard, Michael Newdow‘s long-standing attempt to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance was stopped (again) by the Supreme Court.

More recently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against him in his attempt to get “In God We Trust” off the currency, saying that “the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic and ‘has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.’”… so Newdow appealed his case to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Court refused to hear his case, effectively putting an end to this attempt at righting a wrong.

So does this mean it’s over?

Yes and no.

According to Newdow, this is only the end to the case in the 9th Circuit.

In the 1st Circuit, he lost his initial case, appealed it, and lost the appeal. Once again, he’ll be asking the Supreme Court to review the case — the deadline for doing this is this coming Monday. I would guess the Court will say no yet again.

And that would be the end to that case.

Newdow is persistent, though, and he knows he’s right on this issue: “Under God” has no business being in the Pledge. Not only that, there are parents all across the country — in other circuit court districts — willing to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit.

Newdow writes (to me in an email):

There are 7 circuits left (the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th and the DC Circuit), and I plan to go to each until I find two judges willing to uphold the Constitution.

If even one of those courts agrees with him, the national conversation about the Pledge will start up again. I wonder how different it will be the next time around, with so many more vocal atheists out there now than there were back in 2004…

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ron in Houston

    Yeah, well being “right” and it being the law are two distinctly different concepts.

    Sometimes the law just isn’t “right” and many times justice is certainly not “just.”

  • Lost In The Bible Belt

    fight fight fight until its right!

  • Hazor

    “the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic and ‘has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.’

    Ugh… It is blatantly religious. “God” is not a term associated with anything secular. It was put in for religious reasons. I have no idea what ceremony has to do with it, and it would only be patriotic if we were in fact a Christian nation. Which, for those who missed it, we’re not.

    I really wonder whether the judges’ decisions are being made in sincerity. That is, whether they honestly believe that it’s not religious, or whether they are saying so only to advance their personal religious views.

  • Matt H.

    While it may be of a ceremonial nature, simply because it’s been that way almost 60 years, to say it has nothing to do with the establishment of religion is extremely disingenuous.

    Christians should consider adding an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt be an exceptional liar.”

  • Ceremonial in the sense that the ceremony was ‘recreated’ in 1954 when ‘under god’ was added to the original pledge? The history of the change clearly shows that it was added by religious organizations for religious reasons. It worked its way through the system by religious-affiliated politicians.

    I’m disappointed with the Supreme Court, but it’s great to hear that Newdow is so passionate about the issue.

  • Rich Wilson

    My A-Week FB status for today:

    According the the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment 14 Section 1, I am a citizen of the USA. However, according to the motto, I am not. I feel pretty comfortable that the constitution trumps the motto, but it is disturbing that ‘our’ motto would exclude roughly 10% of the population.

  • zachofalltrades

    While it is blatantly unconstitutional to invoke god on currency and the pledge, I look at it as being kind of a colloquialism – like how I frequently use the phrases “god dammit” or “jesus christ!” when I smash some part of my body with something heavy.

    Having said that though, it really is patently unconstitutional, so even though I don’t personally get worked up about it, it does need to be removed. That part isn’t a matter of opinion – it is unconstitutional.

  • Don

    I think the court gave the wrong answer to the wrong question. What we should be doing is not getting “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance, but getting rid of the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • but getting rid of the Pledge of Allegiance.

    I wonder how many on the (R)ight know that the pledge was written by a christian, but one who was a *gasp* socialist?

  • Don

    A Socialist working for a flag manufacturer no less. It started out as a marketing gimmick and has become a ceremonial loyalty oath.

  • nankay

    zachofalltrades, I’m glad you don’t have to get worked up over it, but too many times now I have had to explain myself as to why I sit out the Pledge and I have had to field e-mails from teachers asking the same question of my children. We’re not trying to draw attention to ourselves; We really just want to be left the hell alone.

  • derek

    It’s sort of funny how “Under God” was added to the currency as propaganda against the succeeded South and was added to the Pledge as propaganda against Soviet Russia. “Under God” persists because of the moronic assertion that the US is a Christian Nation.

  • Gordon

    They must be terrified of the backlash “good” christians will unleash at whoever steps up and rules “under god” unconstitutional.

    There will definitel be christians willing to resort to violence over this.

    Safer to pretend the word god is meaningless.

  • ludovico

    Newdow–get a life! The phrase “under God” in no way, shape, or form “[respects] an establishment of religion” per the first Amendment. This phrase, which has appeared on U.S. coinage for over 100 years, and in the Pledge for over 50 years, has done nothing to move this country to establish a “Church of The United States” analogous to the Church of England, which was the clear intent of the writers of the Constitution and subsequent Amendment.

  • martha

    Yes it establishes religion. One nation under God means a nation under God. I call that establishing religion.

    But whatever. This should not go to the Supreme Court at this time. We have the most conservative Supreme Court our country has had in a 100 years. Stay away from them.

    ludovico: Why do people say “get a life?” It is meaningless and insulting.

  • fiddler

    Considering that the court determined it to be “ceremonial,” how about the next challenge state a desire to the original and longer standing ceremony. From 1892 until 1954 is 62 years. From 1954 until now is 57 years. Therefore the longer standing ceremonial form should be adhered to.

  • SWare

    Pledge: a binding promise or agreement to do or forbear

    Allegiance: the fidelity owed by a subject or citizen to a sovereign or government: the obligation of an alien to the government under which the alien resides. Devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause

    We do not refer to the pledge of allegiance in this country as a song or a mere poem. It is called a “pledge” of “allegiance”. So do they really want an entire segment of the population to just say the words and not mean them because there is a major element to the wording that some of us cannot and will not abide therefore, lying about it if we say it at all? Maybe it is acceptable in the judicial sense because no one is forced to say it. I do think under god is wrong and also think the overall meaning of the words would merely be broadened and more inclusive without god in it. But actually covering all citizens the same would totally destroy the “us vs. them” politics we “so enjoy” right now.

  • SWare

    Must also add that it is still recited when immigrants become citizens so that again calls into question the “ceremony” of it. Is it really just “ceremony” or do we expect new citizens actually abide by their “pledge”?

  • P. Coyle

    Ludovico: The phrase “under God” has never appeared on U.S. coinage or currency. You are thinking of “In God We Trust.”

    You write:

    This phrase, which has appeared on U.S. coinage for over 100 years, and in the Pledge for over 50 years, has done nothing to move this country to establish a “Church of The United States” analogous to the Church of England, which was the clear intent of the writers of the Constitution and subsequent Amendment.

    I would ask, first, whether you can demonstrate what the “clear intent” of the “writers” of the First Amendment was. Second, I would ask whether you can demonstrate that the “writers” of the Amendment agreed on its meaning. Third, I would ask whether you can demonstrate that the “writers” of the Constitution and the First Amendment thought that the proper standard for interpreting the Constitution was their alleged intent rather than what the document actually says.

  • Nick Andrew

    “one nation under God” … says to me that God is the supreme ruler of the nation. Which god? Jehovah of course. Aligning your whole country with this god, making this god your final authority, as opposed to (say) Krishna or no god at all, certainly sounds like an establishment of religion to me!

  • Ben

    And the same Authors meant the 2cd ammendment to refer to smooth-bore flintlock muskets.

    The 1st was clearly meant to permit the many various religious groups (Catholic, anglican, anabaptist, jew, quaker, mennonite) to co-exist in peace under the solemn agreement that neither of them would (as in the Salem Witch Trials, the persecution of John Bunyan, etc…) use the awesome power of the State to “establish” religion.

    The injection of God 100 years later into the pledge – was a breach of this contract; and a sore to this day.

    The Court has ruled that “God” is an empty suit deity having no “meaning” at all – this violating the 3rd commandment in the bargain.

  • Ben

    The Current Supreme Court should be recorded in History as demoting “God” to “insubstantial” and meaninglessness as required to retain its presence in the Pledge.
    The State should not whore its pledge to the church for approval; neither should the church whore out its diety to the State. This kind of quid pro quo is exactly the devils bargain which the founders found abhorrent in their prior governments – both here (Salem Witch Trials) and abroad (Paul Bunyan).

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