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Old 06-26-2002, 02:48 PM   #1
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Pledge of Allegiance and a federal court

http://www.cnn.com


Pledge of Allegiance ruled unconstitutional
June 26, 2002 Posted: 3:04 PM EDT (1904 GMT)



SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- For the first time ever, a federal appeals court declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional Wednesday because of the words "under God" added by Congress in 1954.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the phrase amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state.

"A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.

The appeals said that when President Eisenhower signed the legislation inserting "under God" after the words "one nation," he wrote that "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty."

The court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has said students cannot hold religious invocations at graduations and cannot be compelled to recite the pledge. But when the pledge is recited in a classroom, a student who objects is confronted with an "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting," the appeals court said.

"Although students cannot be forced to participate in recitation of the pledge, the school district is nonetheless conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the pledge," the court said.

The case was brought by Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the pledge at the Elk Grove school district. A federal judge dismissed his lawsuit, but the 9th Circuit ordered that the case proceed to trial.

"I'm an American citizen. I don't like my rights infringed upon by my government," he said in an interview. Newdow called the pledge a "religious idea that certain people don't agree with."

The government had argued that the religious content of "one nation under God" is minimal.

But the appeals court said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it as an attempt to "enforce a 'religious orthodoxy' of monotheism."

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Old 06-26-2002, 02:55 PM   #2
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I think they need to get over it.
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Old 06-26-2002, 03:47 PM   #3
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I think it's about time.
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Old 06-26-2002, 03:56 PM   #4
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WOW! In most school already u dont have to say it !
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Old 06-26-2002, 04:14 PM   #5
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Well..the 9th Circuit Court is notorious for having their declarations thrown out of the Supreme Court...or so I have been told...

I don't say the Pledge...not because of the 'under God' part...but as an American Indian the words "liberty and justice for all' kind of get stuck in my throat.

However I respect why others want to say it..and so far most people have respected my decision not to say it...

I knew this would come up eventually...and it will come up again if it gets thrown out..

If you don't want to say it...don't say it...and don't harass anyone who doesn't want to...

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Old 06-26-2002, 04:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by dream wanderer

I don't say the Pledge...not because of the 'under God' part...but as an American Indian the words "liberty and justice for all' kind of get stuck in my throat.

understandably...

what tribe?

I hated saying the pledge when I was a kid because I didn't understand the concept of pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth. I know it's a symbolic patriotic thing, but I think it's dumb and mechanical and at the age of 6 made me feel like a sheep. I remember this vividly. I believe in God, though.
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Old 06-26-2002, 04:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by dream wanderer
but as an American Indian the words "liberty and justice for all' kind of get stuck in my throat.
i can totally understand why. i'm an american indian too (well, my great grandmother was a full-blooded cherokee, so it's not really that much) and when i heard the things they had to go through after the europeans came here so many hundreds of years ago, i was shocked, even moreso at the way the history teachers made so lightly of it. like as the forefathers, they had a dream to make this entire country theirs, and anyone who got in their way deserved to be forced into living in small reservations.

i wouldn't consider myself anti-american, but after all the things we've done in our history to innocent people....

but i agree. it is about time they got rid of it.
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Old 06-26-2002, 04:33 PM   #8
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It's not pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth, but to the country and the ideals of the country.

I don't know how I feel about the ruling. I mean part of me says this case is dumb and should have never been brought to trial ...

But ... the other part of me says that forcing religion on others is not right and one of the ideals of this country is religious freedom. We should let people believe (or not believe) whatever they want. I have always tended to believe that there is already too much mixing of church and state ...
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Old 06-26-2002, 05:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by JessicaAnn
It's not pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth, but to the country and the ideals of the country.

Believe me, I understand this. I was relaying a memory from the age of 6 and at that age it confused me. Even later when I understood what it really meant, it made me feel like a robot to repeat it in that mechanical way in which the pledge is recited. I felt the same way about saying 'the blessing' at the dinner table.
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Old 06-26-2002, 07:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by joyfulgirl
[B]

understandably...

what tribe?

[B]
Eastern Cherokee from NC... we are of course seperated from The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma by a little incident known as the Trail of Tears..


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Old 06-26-2002, 07:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by joyfulgirl
I think it's about time.
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Old 06-26-2002, 09:00 PM   #12
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they are cleaning up.
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Old 06-26-2002, 09:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4
I think they need to get over it.
I think I have to agree with Sula here. Considering that so many nations around the world have "official religions" and blatant theocracy in greater measures, it makes this seem a bit trivial to go through all of the courts with it.

I went to elementary school with a kid who belonged to the Jehovah's Witness faith, and he sat out the Pledge of Allegiance daily. We didn't have a problem with him, he didn't have a problem with us. Likewise, an atheist could say the Pledge and simply leave out "under God."

Imagine this: a school cafeteria serves ham and cheese sandwiches on the menu on Thursdays. There is an Orthodox Jewish student who attends the school. Do they completely delete ham and cheese sandwiches from the menu and serve only kosher food? or do they accomodate him with an alternative menu? In my opinion, the latter is more practical.

No matter what laws you impose upon me, I will always consider my nation to be "below" my God. He comes first in my life. If you instruct me not to say "under God," I will defy your order.

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Old 06-26-2002, 09:38 PM   #14
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I'm Canadian, but if I were American I would choose not to say the Pledge because, as Bama mentioned, I'm a Jehovah's Witness and though we respect the country and the flag we don't believe in saluting them, pledging to them, etc. However, this subject brought something else to my mind. American money, or at least some of it, has the motto "In God We Trust" on it, right? So, is this likely to be challenged as well? It would seem pretty major to change all the money, but if people feel that the God reference in the Pledge imposes religion on them, you'd think they would feel the same about that motto on the money.
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Old 06-26-2002, 09:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by scatteroflight
American money, or at least some of it, has the motto "In God We Trust" on it, right? So, is this likely to be challenged as well? It would seem pretty major to change all the money, but if people feel that the God reference in the Pledge imposes religion on them, you'd think they would feel the same about that motto on the money.
Great point...I guess these people who feel that they are having religion forced upon them by reciting the Pledge should stop spending our government printed currency with the "G" word on it.
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Old 06-26-2002, 10:58 PM   #16
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Originally posted by U2Bama


Likewise, an atheist could say the Pledge and simply leave out "under God."

That's not the point. Anyone who understands and believes in separation of church and state has has neither a legal nor a moral leg to stand on to oppose this decision. It really is as simple as that.

What I find more frustrating is that the phrase hasn't been removed before now, and what I find most exasperating of all is that it was added in the first place--in 1954, under Eisenhower. It was little more than an extension of his loyalty probes and a remnant of McCarthyism. Contrary to what many people believe (and I'm not implying that you do, U2Bama), "under God" was neither created by nor in reference to our forefathers. It has nothing to do with this nation's birth in religious persecution, and all to do with Khruschev, the Russians, and our overbearing fear of Communism.

No informed citizen can honestly question this decision, can they?

edit: Might I add, predicting a response suggesting that those who wish not to say it may refrain, that this is neither a viable nor a fair solution. It is not fair to atheist students to force them to suffer the judgement of their peers in order to maintain their beliefs--this is no mere hypothetical. I noticeably stood out in my class when I was younger by refusing to participate. There simply is no reason for that phrase to be included, if the constitution--and its provision of separation of church and state--is to continue to be the basis of our government.
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Old 06-26-2002, 11:25 PM   #17
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Hullo, Mug.

You asked, "No informed citizen can honestly question this decision, can they?"

They can, and I'm here to demonstrate it.

(First, I'm glad to see someone else here willing debate to the larger question at hand: that is, whether California's action - that it "requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the pledge" - UNCONSTITUTIONAL.)

Certainly, I can see how athiests can find it annoying, but that doesn't make the thing a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, I think the term "unconstitutional" is used FAR too much - used by people who both disagree with some law or act (such as capital punishment) and want to use the court system to change the status quo, thereby short-circuiting that troublesome little process of convincing Congress to write bills that the President will sign into law.

Do I then think that this specific instance is a violation of the U.S. Constitution?

In a word, no. And I'll tell you why.

The ONLY possible violation is within the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This case isn't a violation, I believe for several reasons:

1. The amendment refers to "CONGRESS" - government at the national level - and California is a state, and the act seems allowable under Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

2. The act doesn't respect an establishment of religion. An "establishment of religion" or "religious establishment" refers to a church; the amendment was written to prevent the creation of an analogue to the Church of England. To say this amendment prevents the "under God" phrase from being uttered by a teacher in a state-run public school is like stretching the Second Amendment to include nuclear weapons. Much as I believe Amendment II should be defended, that sort of stretch is absurd.

(Amusing, though, how many who stretch Amendment I to prevent this - and stretch Amendment IX to say that abortion is constitutionally protected - pretty much ignore Amendment II altogether.)

3. While our nation ensures religious pluralism, it has always professed the belief in a Divine Creator.

On our money, you will find our motto, the simply phrase, "In God We Trust."

The Great Seal of the United States (also found on the one-dollar bill) features the eye of Divine Providence, and I've read that the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives both mention God in their respective seals.

Most of our most treasured patriotic songs mention God:

"God Bless America"
"America the Beautiful" (God shed His grace on thee)
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord)
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (fourth verse: Our Fathers' God, to thee)

Heck, even our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, mentions our motto in its fourth verse (And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!")

And the three most important documents in American history either mention or imply the Divine Creator. The religious-minded almost invariably mention the Declaration of Independence's invocation of the Creator:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The thorough student of history may find that the Gettysburg Address mentions "this nation under God" (there's that damnable phrase again!):

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

And I submit that the Constitution of the United States of America - that the law of the land ITSELF - recognizes the Creator in its Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our osterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did you miss it? I'll make it easier for ya: "the Blessings of Liberty."

This appears to be a direct reference to the Declaration of Independence: "that they are endowed by their Creator... liberty..." Furthermore, a blessing is a thing given, and I believe the only One who can bless us with liberty is the Almighty Himself.


"Neither a legal nor a moral leg to stand on," indeed.
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Old 06-26-2002, 11:49 PM   #18
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mug222:

I understand your concerns and your point of view.

Personally, I pledge my political allegiance to the United States, which as a matter of faith, I consider to be below God. I too am a strong advocate of seperation of church and state, therefore I find it necessary to make a distinction between the two. I consider the nation to be on one level, and God to be on a much higher level. I will contiue to say "under God" when I recite the Pledge of Allegiance to verbally reaffirm that distinction.

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Old 06-27-2002, 12:00 AM   #19
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Interesting; I have encountered some strong words from Senators, in BOTH parties, opposed to this ruling:

"I hope the Senate will waste no time in throwing this back in the face of this stupid judge. Stupid, that's what he is." -Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat-West Virginia

"This decision is nuts. It's just nuts" -Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat-South Dakota

"This is obviously an unbelievable decision, as far as I am concerned, and an incorrect ruling and a stupid ruling." -Senator Trent Lott, Republican-Mississippi

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Old 06-27-2002, 01:08 AM   #20
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[preamble: it's 1 am and my mind is tired. Please excuse resulting errors ]

This to me seems like such a simply resolved topic that I am amazed that it can honestly be challenged. I am doubly amazed by the action of the Senate this afternoon (voting 99-0 to challenge the ruling.) I truly believe that this will soon be viewed as a major source of humiliation for Congress. What a laughable action.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

The ONLY possible violation is within the First Amendment:
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

1. The amendment refers to "CONGRESS" - government at the national level - and California is a state.
Federal law now allows (requires?) the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on a nationwide basis. The only reason that the case was decided in California was because the first plaintiff that had the courage to step forward was from California. Although this ruling only directly affects the immediate school district, we both know that it is national law that is being challenged.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

2. The act doesn't respect an establishment of religion. An "establishment of religion" or "religious establishment" refers to a church; the amendment was written to prevent the creation of an analogue to the Church of England.
Who are you to interpret--purely, as you say above, from a phrase in the First Amendment--that it was written to prevent an equivalent of the Church of England? It doesn't matter how you would like the phrase interpreted, as it prohibits any and all connection between Church and State. How is this difficult to understand?
God, by the way, is certainly representative of Church: saying "under God" is no different from "under Vishnu." The only difference is that we were not founded by Hindi forefathers, we were founded by Christians. "God" is church. The pledge of allegiance is state. They have no official place together. (Although, Bama, I would certainly not mind if you continue to add the words 'under God' to reaffirm God's place above the U.S. The official line of the U.S. , however, cannot possibly include that term.)


Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

3. While our nation ensures religious pluralism, it has always professed the belief in a Divine Creator.
Unfortunately Bubba, your entire last major point--to a large extent--is a throwaway. I don't give a damn that Washington or Adams or Jefferson believed in God (and I will repeat that even they did not include the phrase "under God"...it was only under threat from those 'godless Commies' in 1954.) I do not care that many presidents illegally ignored that clause of the first amendment--their inability to follow the constitution does not absolve us if we do the same.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

On our money, you will find our motto, the simply phrase, "In God We Trust."
I'm well aware of this, which is why that phrase must be removed from new bills. I accept that the cost of replacing the entire circulation with legal, 'separated from Church' bills would be prohibitively high, so I would be satisfied with a gradual phasing-out of the current stock. Seriously, though, this does not support your point in the slightest--it merely provides another example of our government's inability to follow its own rules. The motto does not represent all Americans, it should not be found constitutional (from either a loose or strict construction), and it has no place in the U.S.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

The Great Seal of the United States (also found on the one-dollar bill) features the eye of Divine Providence, and I've read that the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives both mention God in their respective seals.
See above.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

Most of our most treasured patriotic songs mention God:

"God Bless America"
"America the Beautiful" (God shed His grace on thee)
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord)
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (fourth verse: Our Fathers' God, to thee)
What exactly is the point of these examples? Believe me, I understand all too well that this is a religious nation, and I am disgusted by the sheer, arrogant hypocrisy of that religious nature seeping into our government--a government created by the descendents of the religiously-persecuted. How terribly perverse.
So I ask again--what is the point of bombarding me with examples of our religious culture? I have no problem with anyone practicing religion privately. I have no problem with the above songs, and in fact I enjoy many of their tunes . Please refer again to the first amendment to see why these songs are perfectly fine, except as official anthems of the government (see: Star Spangled Banner, below).
Furthermore (and I hope this is not the case) if the implication is that atheism has no place in our tradition and by extension no place in our society, I am taken aback.
(That religion is so completely intertwined with our society now simply serves as another display of secular Europe's superiority.)

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

Heck, even our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, mentions our motto in its fourth verse (And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!")
Yes, this too should not be allowed by the constitution. It is, however, so much a part of our history and tradition that I don't mind it as our national anthem and would not challenge it, unlike an insignificant little 1954 addition intended as a threat to the Kremlin.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
And the three most important documents in American history either mention or imply the Divine Creator.
And I ask again, who the hell cares? Must we really be slave to the faults of our founding fathers? Have we advanced nowhere since 1776? Can we not finally follow through on the promise to separate Church and State?

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

The thorough student of history may find that the Gettysburg Address mentions "this nation under God" (there's that damnable phrase again!):
I don't begrudge Lincoln's faith in God, and I frankly again don't see how an important but seemingly random historical speech supports your stance that "under God" should remain in our pledge of allegiance.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

And I submit that the Constitution of the United States of America - that the law of the land ITSELF - recognizes the Creator in its Preamble.
Although I am not sold on the fact that "the Blessings of Liberty" must be interpreted religiously, all I can say to this is: Thank God Almighty for the Bill of Rights.
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