At this time of the winter countless high school basketball teams are trying to dribble, pass and shoot their way to a state championship. Glamorized in small-town lore and big-budget movies, reaching the state tournament is a dream shared by most any student athlete who has put on a basketball jersey (or soccer cleats or football pads or a wrestling singlet or softball glove).
Dr. Michael Newdow, the California atheist who sued to get “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, says he refiled a suit regarding the pledge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California January 3. A court staffer said legal documents had been received but had not been officially recorded pending additional paperwork from Newdow.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling on whether “under God” should be part of the Pledge of Allegiance passed with relatively little notice, since the case was rejected on procedural grounds. For those who paid attention to the arguments, however, it conclusively exposed the incompatibility of American civil religion with any kind of robust Christianity.
The U.S. House approval of a bill that would prevent courts from ruling on whether “under God” belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance has prompted a quick response from groups concerned about religious freedom and what critics called a series of “court-stripping” bills.
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.
Before the recent fight over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, Americans were in conflict over mounting the Ten Commandments in publicly owned places. The God of the pledge and the commandments, advocates argue, is a generic, one-size-fits-all God, in God-blessed America.
A massive public outcry greeted the ruling last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that the words “under God” in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violate the “no establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment. Congress rushed to condemn the decision. President Bush termed it ridiculous and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called it “just nuts.