Statement on Ninth Circuit's Decision in Newdow Pledge Case
Statement regarding the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision ruling the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutional.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892. Our pledge was officially recognized in 1942 by the United States Congress. The Secular Coalition for America supports this pledge.
During the vicious Joe McCarthy era the U.S. Congress added the phrase “Under God” to the Pledge. The Secular Coalition for America supports the original Pledge of Allegiance which did not then -- and should not now -- include the phrase “under God.”
The Secular Coalition for America supports individual Americans making private decisions about a belief or lack of belief in God. That decision should remain private, not imposed on children by government.
Justice Robert Jackson, who took a leave from the Supreme Court to serve as chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, believed strongly in justice and the uniform rule of law, and is remembered as a great Supreme Court Justice. Regarding the Pledge he wrote, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."
The Secular Coalition for America supports the original Pledge of Allegiance which did not prescribe an orthodoxy regarding religion in American life.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt was unquestionably right when he wrote in his Ninth Circuit dissent in the Newdow case that “the state-directed, teacher-led daily recitation in public schools of the amended ‘under God’ version of the Pledge of Allegiance...violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.” The Secular Coalition for America commends Judge Reinhardt for the nobility and accuracy of his statement regarding the Joe McCarthy era pledge.
We will continue to work for a constitutional pledge in American law that supports minority rights, and we will support the nomination of judges who believe in the Bill of Rights and its declaration that government has no business establishing a religion or imposing a religious belief on any American – especially a child.
Read more on our position here.