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« Carnival of the Godless #18 The RantsHomo Sapiens: Spreading Like the Common Cold »

Judge Narrows Newdow's Pledge Case
2005.07.26 (Tue) 23:06

In case you don't know, Michael Newdow is the attorney who is trying to have the "under God" bit in the Pledge of Allegience declared to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. He won his initial case in 2002 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; but when the suit was kicked up a notch, the Supreme Court dismissed it due to "lack of standing," citing the fact that Newdow did not have custody of his daughter as grounds for deciding he had no legal right to broach the suit. Newdow then enlisted the assistance of eight other parents, and refiled his suit in the beginning of 2005.

As we said back then, the dismissal due to lack of standing never sat well with us. While it is our opinion that any American citizen should automatically have standing to file a suit in response to any violation of constitutional law, simply by virtue of being a citizen, that is unfortunately not how the law is currently implemented. So, while we agree with that ruling on legal grounds, it's something that we strongly believe should be changed about constitutional cases.

In addition to our older post linked above, you can catch up on why we think that "little things" like this matter in yet another post from the same time period. For now, suffice it to say that we support Newdow's pledge case, and though we have doubts that the case can succeed right now, we stand behind him.

A little over a week ago, according to an AP article from ABC News, a district court judge has narrowed Newdow's case:

Newdow suffered a setback Monday in his latest case when the judge said he plans to throw out several parts of Newdow's lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton indicated that he planned to block Newdow from having the pledge itself and the words "under God" declared unconstitutional. His lawsuit instead would focus strictly on whether reciting the pledge in public schools is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, meaning Newdow could still have the pledge barred from schools if he prevails in the long-shot effort.

"What I'm doing is cutting out a whole lot of your case and making it narrow," Karlton said during the first hearing on the lawsuit.

Terence Cassidy, a lawyer for the Elk Grove Unified School District, urged the judge to dismiss the entire case. He said reciting the pledge in school was not about religion, but rather is designed "to teach children about patriotism."

Despite his indication about limiting the lawsuit, the judge acknowledged that Newdow may have a valid point about the pledge in schools. The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge by Congress in 1954.

"There is nothing whatsoever that requires acknowledging God to love this country," Karlton said.

What do we have to say about this narrowing of the case? Well, it sounds good to us. In fact, we're a little embarrassed that we didn't suggest it ourselves.

Of course the pledge itself isn't unconstitutional — no sequence of words itself can be "unconstitutional" if considered with no regard to context. It's not what the words are that matters. It's those other pesky interrogatives — who, where, when, how and why — that can be used to judge whether a phrase is constitutional or not. The "what" is inconsequential, since any possible "what" is protected as free speech by the First Amendment. By itself, any phrase or speech or pledge honoring a magical superhero in the sky is perfectly all right, if that's your thing. Having this phrase or speech (or whatever) be endorsed by a government institution, or an individual acting on behalf of the government, is not. It's that simple.

In this case, the actual problem is the fact that the pledge is recited daily by most public school children across the country. So, as far as we're concerned, Judge Karlton has made the right decision in narrowing the case.

We'll continue to follow Newdow's case. Based on Karlton's statement quoted above — which rightly acknowledges that there is no reason that loving the United States should also entail a nod to God — we think Newdow might pull it off at this level. The Supremes, however, are a different story. We shall see.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Civil Liberties  % Government & Politics  % Religion  ]

Comments (9)

Grendel, 2005.07.27 (Wed) 10:35 [Link] »

"Terence Cassidy, a lawyer for the Elk Grove Unified School District, urged the judge to dismiss the entire case. He said reciting the pledge in school was not about religion, but rather is designed "to teach children about patriotism."

I hope this lame bit of thinking is the strength of the opposition's case. If you wish to 'teach children about patriotism' you change the phrase from "under God" to "under law".

The US is a nation of laws. Patriotism and belief in God are not mutually inclusive.

My father was a WWII US Marine who served in the South Pacific theater and in post-war civilian life was a 30 year career police officer in Detroit, Michigan. His entire life was dedicated to patriotism and law enforcement. He was an immigrant born in Scotland who loved his adopted country. He was also a life-long atheist.

I am very glad he didn't live long enough to hear President Bush declare him unpatriotic because he didn't believe in God.

I am very much in support of this lawsuit as well.

Mrs Gong, 2005.09.14 (Wed) 16:26 [Link] »

I thought we were a democracty. Rule by the majority.
Majority believe in a higher power and the minority do not.
Is everyone an atheist now? If there is a god then it is good to praise him, if there isn't what harm is there in the few words.
As long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer.

Charles, 2005.09.14 (Wed) 16:33 [Link] »

Who will you be looking to when the next personal distory strikes? Who do you look to on your death bead? Mybe we should just stop teaching our children and moral codes. Let them have no respect for authority. Just sit back and see what happens! If we can not say the pledge then why can you not just stand still while we do?

Keith, 2005.09.14 (Wed) 17:14 [Link] »

My only salvation in this, is that one day all of the atheists will be seeking god with their dying breath, and it will be far too late. I know there is a God as the majority of the American Citizens do. Couldn't the minority just accept what this great country basis was built on? Freedom of Religon? Some how that has now been brushed under the carpet.?

Donald Mulligan, 2005.09.14 (Wed) 17:39 [Link] »

The pledge of alligegence should absoultly be allowed and mandatory in all our school systems. Our children are our future. Our children need good, wholsome standards to live by. Anything less is just plain unpatriotic. Sincerly, Donald Mulligan

Tony, 2005.09.15 (Thu) 00:14 [Link] »

Apparently the Declaration of Independance is irrelevant to Michael Neudow and his families. As well as this "Judge" If Jefferson acknokleged God, as the giver of our rights, and that he did not specifically name a specific God, it is only "offensive" to athiests. Gays sucking eachothers dicks in public during Mardi Gras, I find offensive, but there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it what-so-ever!! That is their supposed right. But my kids have a right to acknolwge God in schools and in the Pledge. They say, "If you don't like gay sex in public, then don't watch it". I say," If you dont like an acknowlegement of God in public, then don't watch it!!" This precident is extremely one sided and completely unfair, but so are LIberals. To say that The Declaration of Independance is offensive, then the absoulte entire foundation we have, is under attack. Under attack by domestic enemies. Tis rebellion my lord. We must fight.

Latter Day Saint, 2005.09.15 (Thu) 11:03 [Link] »

All God's children have the right to choose for themselves whether He exists or not. I know that God exists and has his hand on this, His nation. However, His hand is withdrawn when we do not acknowledge Him. Still, everyone has their free agency to choose life or death, spiritually. So, those who do not wish to say the pledge of allegience should not do so and let the majority of US citizens praise their God and country simultaneously. When this nations follows God it will prosper, when it chooses not to follow Him, it will dwindle. Heavenly Father lives, His son Jesus Christ lives. The fullness of the gospel has been restored in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. God bless America.

% Trackback » 2005.09.16 (Fri) 16:28
"Newdow Marches On" from The Two Percent Company's Rants

As reported yesterday by ABC News: A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday, a decision that could put the divisive issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments. The c... [More]

The Two Percent Company, 2005.09.16 (Fri) 18:12 [Link] »

Dear Jesus Freaks,

As we've already taken the time to address the narrow-minded comments above, please feel free to follow the preceding trackback and read our response post.

To all Jesus Freaks interested in leaving yet another comment like the ones above, please check our other post before doing so. Chances are pretty good that we've already addressed whatever closed-minded, intolerant, and likely illiterate point you have in mind.

The Management.

Rockstar, 2005.09.19 (Mon) 09:30 [Link] »

Bah Gawd, I friggin' love you guys...

New keyboard coming up due to the coffee I spat on it.

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