"One Nation Under God" Questions Constitutionality of Pledge

( [email protected] ) Mar 25, 2004 04:16 PM EST

The constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance has been brought to trial by Michael Newdow, an atheist who does not want his fourth-grade daughter to say "one nation under God." The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argumnets on the case yesterday, March 24.

"The coercive effect of the policy here is particularly pronounced in the school setting given the age and impressionability of school children," said the court.

Jordan Lorence, constitutional attorney and senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said that the court will be considering whether the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Establishment Clause. The word "God" is also put into question as to whether it violates the Constitution.

Lorence comments that it is not a violation because "'One nation under God' is a statement of political philosophy, a shorthand rendering of what it said in the Declaration of Independence: 'That we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,' and that governments are established to secure those rights. Just because the God-word is in it doesn't render it religious, or devotional, or ritualistic, or anything. Therefore, it is not even an Establishment Clause issue at all."

Another issue is whether Michael Newdow, who is a lawyer and a doctor, has standing -- ability to file this suit under Constitution. As an unmarried father, Newdow does not hold custody over his daughter. The mother has final say on

such matters as these and does not disapprove of her daughter saying "one nation under God."

"The court could well render a narrow opinion saying that Michael Newdow does not having standing, and that they intend to vacate all the decisions back to day one -- saying that this lawsuit should never have been brought to begin

with," said Lorence.

This case will only "go away for now" but the issue is yet to be solved.