Supreme Court Preserves "One Nation, Under God"

Supreme Court Preserves "One Nation, Under God"
Mon Jun 14, 2004 13:35

Supreme Court Preserves "One Nation, Under God"

Supreme Court Preserves 'God' in Pledge,1282,-4203724,00.html

Monday June 14, 2004 5:01 PM

AP Photo NYET225


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court preserved the phrase ``one nation, under God,'' in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling Monday that a California atheist could not challenge the patriotic oath but sidestepping the broader question of separation of church and state.

At least for now, the decision - which came on Flag Day - leaves untouched the practice in which millions of schoolchildren around the country begin the day by reciting the pledge.

The court said atheist Michael Newdow could not sue to ban the pledge from his daughter's school and others because he did not have legal authority to speak for her.

Newdow is in a protracted custody fight with the girl's mother. He does not have sufficient custody of the child to qualify as her legal representative, the court said. Eight justices voted to reverse a lower court ruling in Newdow's favor.

Justice Antonin Scalia removed himself from participation in the case, presumably because of remarks he had made that seemed to telegraph his view that the pledge is constitutional.

``When hard questions of domestic relations are sure to affect the outcome, the prudent course is for the federal court to stay its hand rather than reach out to resolve a weighty question of federal constitutional law,'' Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court.

``I may be the best father in the world,'' Newdow said shortly after the ruling was announced. ``She spends 10 days a month with me. The suggestion that I don't have sufficient custody is just incredible. This is such a blow for parental rights.''

The 10-year-old's mother, Sandra Banning, had told the court she has no objection to the pledge. The full extent of the problems with the case was not apparent until she filed papers at the high court, Stevens wrote Monday.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist agreed with the outcome of the case, but still wrote separately to say that the pledge as recited by schoolchildren does not violate the Constitution. Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

The ruling came on the day that Congress set aside to honor the national flag. The ruling also came exactly 50 years after Congress added the disputed words ``under God'' to what had been a secular patriotic oath.

The high court's lengthy opinion overturns a ruling two years ago that the teacher-led pledge was unconstitutional in public schools. That appeals court decision set off a national uproar and would have stripped the reference to God from the version of the pledge said by about 9.6 million schoolchildren in California and other western states.

Newdow's daughter, like most elementary school children, hears the Pledge of Allegiance recited daily.

The First Amendment guarantees that government will not ``establish'' religion, wording that has come to mean a general ban on overt government sponsorship of religion in public schools and elsewhere.

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.''

The court has also repeatedly barred school-sponsored prayer from classrooms, playing fields and school ceremonies.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the language of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that tax-supported schools cannot lend their imprimatur to a declaration of fealty to ``one nation under God.''

The Bush administration, the girl's school and Newdow all asked the Supreme Court to get involved in the case.

The administration had asked the high court to rule against Newdow, either on the legal question of his ability to sue or on the constitutional issue. The administration argued that the reference to God in the pledge is more about ceremony and history than about religion.

The reference is an ``official acknowledgment of our nation's religious heritage,'' similar to the ``In God We Trust'' stamped on coins and bills, Solicitor General Theodore Olson argued to the court.

It is far-fetched to say such references pose a real danger of imposing state-sponsored religion, Olson said.

Newdow claims a judge recently gave him joint custody of the girl, whose name is not part of the legal papers filed with the Supreme Court.

Newdow holds medical and legal degrees, and says he is an ordained minister. He argued his own case at the court in March.

The case began when Newdow sued Congress, President Bush and others to eliminate the words ``under God.'' He asked for no damages.

On Monday, Newdohe pledge is still unconstitutional,'' he said. ``What is being done to parents is unconstitutional.''

Newdow had numerous backers at the high court, although they were outnumbered by legal briefs in favor of keeping the wording of the pledge as it is.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he is disappointed.

``The justices ducked this constitutional issue today, but it is likely to come back in the future,'' Lynn said. ``Students should not feel compelled by school officials to subscribe to a particular religious belief in order to show love of country.''

On the other side, the American Center for Law and Justice said the ruling removes a cloud from the pledge.

``While the court did not address the merits of the case, it is clear that the Pledge of Allegiance and the words 'under God' can continue to be recited by students across America,'' said Jay Sekulow, the group's chief counsel.

Congress adopted the pledge as a national patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress added the phrase ``under God'' more than a decade later, in 1954, when the world had moved from hot war to cold.

Supporters of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism.

The case is Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624.

Religion in Public Schools: "under God" Pledge Out;
... The use of the words 'under God' in the Pledge of ... and even mentioning the word "God", students in ... Message Board by American Patriot Friends Network [APFN]. ...

Oath of Office
... Without Justice, there is JUST_US! American Patriot Friends Network (APFN) One Nation Under God, Liberty & Justice for ALL! Networking ...

Will YOU take a stand for God?
... Christians have been under attack ever since Jesus Christ ... spirits, who without their belief in God's help would ... of the day." Reference  ...

Will YOU take a stand for God?
by Flo Maureen Sielaff, Truth Or Consequences

Citizens with religious faith based principles have found themselves under attack from just about every corner of their lives. As if struggling against the already overwhelming burden placed upon US from outside of the Patriotic Community were not enough, anti religious provocateurs have entered a substantial number of Patriotic Forums in a blatant attack upon religious faith based sharings. And make no mistake about it, they are damned good at causing dissension between the members.

Though patriots in general are very good about the right to free speech as granted by Article I of the Bill of Rights, some have conveniently placed aside any relevance to "religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". They don't believe in the Bible, the Ten Commandments, or the free exercise of speech with regards to religious faith based opinions. Such should be kept out of Patriotic Forums according to them.

Freedom of Religion wasn't a new concept when our Founders incorporated it into our Constitution. Not only do they choose to ignore others beliefs that Rights are from God, but they choose to also ignore that which was authorized for them and their fore fathers over a hundred years before the Declaration penned by representatives of the original 13 colonies for US and that Declaration itself. For basic information I recommend "Freedom for William Penn" as simply put in the one and only "Citizens Rule Book". The result of the trial of William Penn in 1670 was not only the establishment of Freedom of Religion, but also the Right to Peaceful Assembly, Freedom of Speech, habeas corpus, and later Freedom of the Press.

"Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner
appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." (1 Peter 4:15-19)

Christians have been under attack ever since Jesus Christ walked the Earth, and as with any religion, true believers have needed spiritual fortification from others within their communities. After all, each of US is a product of our environment.

Those of US with religious faith based values would have thought that we would have been welcomed within the Patriotic Community, for surely a spirit held up by God must be stronger than that which refuses His help. But alas, those without a religious faith based belief would rather we sink into their pools of despair believing nothing can help US except for them. For those who most strongly attack the efforts of those believing in God hinder those strengthened spirits, who without their belief in God's help would have no will at all. Causing me to ask, WHY would someone who says they are a Patriot wish to crush the spirit of their brothers and sisters within their own Community?

Tim Wingate, director of The Carpe Libertas Institute for Critical Reasoning, asks yet another question (and provides US an answer). "Are we at war with each other? The sad truth is yes. It is a cultural war of world views, morals and of faiths. Consequently, this competition influences the legal interpretations of the day." Reference  for his editorial "Power of Positive Patriotism (Part 1)".

Some might consider "they watched [him], and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor" (Luke 20:20), while others might just consider unbelievers to be fools.

One does not need to compromise with unbelievers; they can either choose to accept our God based beliefs or choose to fight without US. We must remain mindful "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Will YOU take a stand for God?

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