Pledge of Allegiance Found Unconstitutional, Again
Special Report - September 15, 2005
A federal judge in California has ruled that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in a public school classroom is unconstitutionala ruling with a scope that effects only a few school districts in that state. This ruling is the latest case brought by California atheist Michael Newdow, who filed suit several years ago claiming that his daughter was injured when forced to witness her teacher and classmates recite the pledge that proclaims there is a God. His original lawsuit resulted in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2002 decision to strike down the pledge as an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case after finding that Newdow lacked the legal authority to bring suit in the first place because his ex-wife had sole legal custody of his daughter.
In the case decided this week, Newdow was joined by two sets of parents who also objected to use of the pledge in their children’s school. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton pointed to precedent set earlier by the Ninth Circuit as the basis for his decision to strike down the pledge. He wrote, “The court concludes that it is bound by the Ninth Circuit’s previous determination that the school district’s policy with regard to the pledge is an unconstitutional violation of the children’s right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.”
Judge Karlton’s decision came just one month after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Virginia state law requiring daily, voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the constitution because, “The pledge, unlike prayer, is not a religious exercise or activity, but a patriotic one.”
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