Mar 12 2010
UBER-LIBERAL 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco says “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is NOT a prayer and therefore is not unconstitutional. Neither is “In God we Trust.”
SAN FRANCISCO –– The federal court that touched off a furor in 2002 by declaring the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion took another look at the issue Thursday and said the phrase invokes patriotism, not religious faith.
The daily schoolroom ritual is not a prayer, but instead “a recognition of our founders’ political philosophy that a power greater than the government gives the people their inalienable rights,” said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a 2-1 ruling.
“Thus, the pledge is an endorsement of our form of government, not of religion or any particular sect.”
The dissenting judge, Stephen Reinhardt, said statements by members of Congress who added “under God” to the pledge in 1954 show conclusively that it was intended to “indoctrinate our nation’s children with a state-held religious belief.”
In a separate ruling, the same panel upheld the use of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on coins and currency. The language is patriotic and ceremonial, not religious, the court said. Reinhardt reluctantly joined the 3-0 decision, saying he was bound by the court’s newly established precedent in the pledge case.
Both suits were filed by Michael Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who has brought numerous challenges to government-sponsored religious invocations. He said he would appeal the rulings to the full appellate court and the U.S. Supreme Court, but was not optimistic. The rulings sent two messages, Newdow said: “To be a real American, you believe in God, and the judiciary unfortunately sometimes can’t be trusted to uphold our constitutional rights when you’re a disenfranchised minority.” SF GATE H/T DAVID