Battle Rages Over 'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance
Becket Fund Files Reply Brief as Next Stage in Pledge Battle Begins
Contact: Jennifer Sheran, cell 404-642-7845, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tony Tortorici, cell 404-520-8853, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- With children across the country returning to school this month, the legal battle continues to rage over how long they will be able to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and honor their flag—a 50-year tradition of patriotic expression.
After the Supreme Court stopped the first round of his crusade to have the Pledge declared unconstitutional because it contains the words “under God”, avowed atheist Michael Newdow filed a new lawsuit in Sacramento federal court. And last November, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton agreed with him, ruling that teachers in a Sacramento-area public school district could no longer lead schoolchildren in saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm that represents the Knights of Columbus as well as students and parents in California who want to keep saying the Pledge, will file a reply brief today in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The appeal is Newdow v. Carey, No. 05-17257.
“For more than 50 years the Pledge has included two words that sum up the most basic element of our nation’s political philosophy: we are a free people because our rights come from a source that is higher than the State, and to which the State is ultimately accountable. In short, we are one nation ‘under God,’” said Kevin (Seamus) Hasson, president and founder of The Becket Fund.
"Saying under God in the pledge is like Jefferson saying ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,’ in the Declaration of Independence. And reciting the Declaration of Independence cannot violate the constitution," Hasson said.
The Knights of Columbus first added the words to the Pledge in 1951 and petitioned Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower to add “under God” to the official version of the Pledge. The new version was formally adopted in 1954 and schoolchildren and civic-minded citizens have been reciting it that way ever since.
The Ninth Circuit, which held the Pledge unconstitutional in 2002, is expected to hear arguments sometime in early 2007. After that the case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.