CFI Decries Court Decision Upholding Pledge

March 12, 2010

The Center for Inquiry has expressed disappointment with Thursday’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 2-1 decision to uphold the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The lawsuit was brought by California lawyer Michael Newdow on behalf of parents who objected to recitations of the phrase in public schools.

“We are deeply disappointed in this ruling by the 9th Circuit, especially as several years ago the 9th Circuit had decided the Pledge was unconstitutional in its current form,” stated Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO for the Center for Inquiry.

In his 123-page dissenting opinion, Judge Stephen Reinhardt expressed his strong conviction that the phrase was clearly unconstitutional. “Under no sound legal analysis adhering to binding Supreme Court precedent could this court uphold state-directed, teacher-led, daily recitation of the ‘under God’ version of the Pledge of Allegiance by children in public schools,” wrote Reinhardt

Lindsay concurred. “As Judge Reinhardt recognized in his dissenting opinion, it is undeniable the words ‘under God’ were inserted into the Pledge in 1954 for religious purposes, and today these words continue to advance religion as millions of students each school day are compelled to affirm belief in God—or risk being ostracized as un-American.” 

The court also voted 3-0 to uphold an earlier 9th Circuit panel decision sanctioning the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and currency, agreeing with the earlier opinion that the motto is foremost ceremonial and patriotic, and “has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.”