Today, a federal California Judge ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. This is a ruling that is sure to be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, probably under the judgment of John Roberts, whose Senate confirmation hearings ended today.
Michael Newdow, the vehement anti-pledge atheist, was barred from bringing suit the last time he tried because he lacked custody of the child he was claiming to protect. However, now he represents other parents who also object to their children hearing the phrase "under God". As a result of this, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton has ruled, based on an earlier District Court decision, that this phrase violates the "Establishment" clause of the First Amendment and therefore must be stricken from the pledge.
Karlton has issued a statement saying that he is prepared to sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge in California until further notice. His full decision can be downloaded here.
In their lawsuit, each of the adult plaintiffs testified that they were made to feel like "political outsiders" due to the government's "embrace of Christian monotheism." Karlton claims that his decision is "one which will satisfy no one involved in the debate" but which "accords with my duty as a judge of a subordinate court." He is referring to the earlier decision by a higher district court which ruled in favor of Newdow the last time.
Such a decision as this one will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Newdow's chances there look pretty bleak. FOX News Correspondent Megyn Kendall on the Brit Hume show had this to say about this issue:
"In my opinion this does not look like a court that is ready to strike down the Pledge of Allegiance. When they punted the first time, several of the justices, including Rehnquist, O’Connor and Thomas all wrote concurring opinions saying we should kick this thing out on the merits, too. We shouldn’t just punt on the procedural ground, we should throw it out on the merit . . . everybody concurred that it ought to be thrown out."
You can view the full transcript of the Brit Hume Show here.
The Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a party to the case, has announced that it will be appealing the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It seems that even though the Pledge of Allegiance has been temporarily taken from California, it will be restored, as the Supreme Court Bench doesn't seem likely to strike it down. However, it is a shame that such an absurd case has come this far. Karlton's decision stated that "the pledge's reference to God violates school children's right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." His claim that he is only following the decision of a higher court is hogwash. "Coercive requirement to affirm God?" Give me a break!
In case you haven't seen it lately, the First Amendment reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
So Congress can't establish a particular denomination as the national religion. I don't see anything there that would make school children's acknowledgement of the fact that God exists "unconstitutional"!
Can any of you readers explain this to me? It seems to me like Old Judge Karlton needs to see a psychiatric specialist or something.