Pledge of Allegiance Case Upheld by Nine Circuit Court

Mar 01, 2003 04:14 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that it would not reconsider the June decision that ruled the “under God” clause in the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. The court was asked to rehear the case as an 11-member panel, but rejected the issue, Feb. 28.

The three member panel, in its June 2002 decision, overturned the 1954 act of Congress that inserted “under God” after “one nation” in the pledge. The panel determined that the inclusion of the phrase was a violation of the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.

"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 in the panel's opinion.

The controversial decision ignited a blaze of criticism from both religious conservatives and politicians alike. Immediately after the case, the Senate approved a resolution affirming the pledge by a 99-0 vote; the House of Representatives passed a similar measure by a 401-5 vote in October.

If the Ninth Circuit Court, located in San Francisco, maintains central holding in the case, all public school classrooms throughout the nine western states included in the Circuit will be affected. The only recourse for a reversal of the decision is the Supreme Court.

By Paulina C.