Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Rights and Reason: Atheist Calls Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional

Here's the AP's take on today's SCOTUS oral argument:

A California atheist told the Supreme Court Wednesday that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional and offensive to people who don't believe there is a God.

Michael Newdow, who challenged the Pledge of Allegiance on behalf of his daughter, said the court has no choice but to keep it out of public schools.

"It's indoctrinating children," he said. "The government is supposed to stay out of religion."

But some justices said they were not sure if the words were intended to unite the country, or express religion.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted that Congress unanimously added the words "under God" in the pledge in 1954.

"That doesn't sound divisive," he said.

"That's only because no atheists can be elected to office," Newdow responded.

Some in the audience erupted in applause in the courtroom, and were threatened with expulsion by the chief justice.
It seems, unfortunately that one of the key question before the court is Newdow?s standing, since he is a non-custodial parent. That?s a shame, because I would hate for the court to have any room to get out of having to make a decision on the central question in this case. The fact of the mater is that if words are held to have meaning, the Pledge endorses a belief in a creator, an action it has no right to do.

Also, be sure to check out How Appealing, which has some great first-hand reporting on today's oral argument.

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