Judge Rules Pledge of Allegiance in Public Schools Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge ruled on Wed in Sacramento that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional in public schools because it contained the phrase "under God."
( [email protected] ) Sep 17, 2005 02:59 PM EDT

A federal district court in Sacramento declared that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional in public schools because it contained the phrase, "under God."

The case was brought forward by Michael Newdom, an atheist from Sacramento County California, who fought the Supreme Court in 2004 to exclude "under God" from the pledge, but his case was dismissed, because at the time, he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter.

However, three Sacramento families have joined with Newdow in filing a lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the pledge.

In a ruling made by the U.S. District Judge Lawrence on Wed, he said that "one nation under God" violates the rights of children who should be free from a "coercive requirement to affirm God."

The lawyer who argued the case for the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Jared Leland said that he expected this verdict and with his firm, he will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit court.

"We want to restore religion to the public square," he said.

Newdow believes that the Pledge of Allegiance should be restored to its original text that was approved by Congress in 1942 that did not mention God.

He described a situation to the Associated Press that showed how he felt on him being an atheist.

"Imagine every morning if the teacher had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say 'We are one nation that denies God exists.'"

"I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that.' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't," AP stated.

The ruling placed restrictions on three school districts—Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary—from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, AP reported.

The phrase "under God" was added to the pledge in 1954 by the legislation stating it "reflected the traditional concept that our nation was founded on the fundamental belief in God," which was in a house report that accompanied the law, according to AP.