Pro-family Groups Disappointed Supreme Court Dodged Constitutionality Issue of Pledge

( [email protected] ) Jun 15, 2004 09:41 PM EDT

There is no doubt pro-family groups are pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Monday which kept "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance but many are disappointedly expecting the issue to resurface since the constitutionality of the Pledge's reference to God was not addressed.

All eight justices appointed to oversee the case agreed to overrule the Ninth District Circuit Appeals Court's decision to consider a California school district's policy requiring the recital of the pledge unconstitutional.

Michael Newdow, an Athiest, had filed the lawsuit challenging the consitutionality of the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance recited by his 8-year-old daughter enrolled at an elementary school in the Elk Grove Unified School District.

The Supreme Court dismissed Newdow's case as it if was never filed based on technicality. Newdow did not have a standing to argue the case on behalf of his daughter, according to the Court, because he was still in a custodial battle with his wife.

Justice Stevens writing for the Court stated, “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.?

The Court's ruling on the standing issue is a very significant one because parental rights are very important but CWA would have liked the Court to rule on the mertis upholding "Under God" in the pledge for school school children, said Jan LaRue, Concerned Women for America's chief counsel, who joined with the Christian Legal Society in an amicus brief submitted to the court.

"I am certainly pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals," commented Founder of Focus on the Family Dr. James Dobson.

Dobson expressed frustration over the Court's avoiding of the real issue.

"However, the Supreme Court does not emerge from this case the defender of America's moral and Christian heritage ?in fact, it showed a lack of principle that is truly appalling. Instead of settling this question once and for all, the Court has left the nation to wonder if God's name will be found unconstitutional if another challenge is brought in a procedurally correct fashion," said Dobson.

The pro-family groups were thankful to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and Justice Clarence Thomas, who took the opportunity to write separately and explain why reciting the phrase "Under God" in the pledge is constitutional.

Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which also filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the Law Center’s members and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said it is likely the pledge will be challenged again in the future.

"Because the Court avoided deciding the Pledge case on its merits," he said, "the ACLU and other anti-religious organizations will undoubtedly find a new plaintiff to again challenge the Pledge. The Thomas More Law Center stands ready to defend at no charge any school district so sued.?

Other friends to the court, National Clergy Council (NCC) and Faith and Action, agree.

"We have no doubt the Pledge will be challenged again and we're working hard to protect it against further assault," said NCC president Rev. Rob Schenck.

The two organizations, which were also part of the Washington D.C. prayer vigil in support of keeping the "Under God" phrase, celebrated the ruling by hanging a two-story banner reading "50 Years Under God" on the front of their joint headquarters immediately across the street from the High Court where it will remain for several months. The groups will also hand out pins to celebrate the victory.