The U.S. Supreme Court has sidestepped a dispute over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that a California atheist had no standing to challenge the phrase on behalf of his daughter. The 8-0 decision was announced on Flag Day, June 14, which was also the 50th anniversary of the time the phrase was inserted into the pledge.
In dismissing the challenge, the justices said that Michael Newdow cannot act as his ten-year-old daughter’s legal representative because he does not have sole custody. Her mother, Sandra Banning, did not object to the pledge as it is now.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas, issued a separate opinion supporting the ruling and said “under God” is not unconstitutional. Justice Antonin Scalia had recused himself after publicly saying he thought Newdow’s case had no merit.