The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Miller asks Supreme Court to uphold constitutionality of pledge

WASHINGTON — The American Center for Law and Justice last month filed an amicus brief on behalf of U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) and several other members of Congress asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the June 2002 decision of the 9th U.S Circuit Court, which declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because of the words “under God.”

“I support the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance — every word of it,” Miller said. “We ask God to bless America in song, and with our money, we proclaim to the world, ‘In God we trust.’ I see nothing wrong with continuing to allow students to recite the Pledge as it is written, and I am hopeful the Supreme Court will overturn this ruling.”

The brief provides detailed historical references of how the Founding Fathers wanted to acknowledge the nation’s religious heritage, and it also argues that every member of the Supreme Court who has addressed the constitutionality of patriotic exercises with religious references has concluded that those references are constitutional acknowledgements of our nation’s religious heritage.

“The words of the Pledge echo the conviction held by the Founders of this Nation that our freedoms come from God,” the brief states. “Congress inserted the phrase ‘One Nation, Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance for the express purpose of reaffirming America’s unique understanding of this truth, and to distinguish America from atheistic nations who recognize no higher authority than the State.”

The brief also states, “The First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve; it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in patriotic exercises in order to suit atheistic sensibilities.”

The brief contends that if the Pledge is held unconstitutional, it will have a chilling affect in public schools regarding the teaching of historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Compact and the Gettysburg Address as well as putting at risk the performance of choral music that includes religious references.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the Pledge case early this year. The case is No. 02-1624, Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed the brief, is an international public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C.

What do you think of this story?
Click here to send a message to the editor.