Last updated on: 7/1/2008 | Author:

“Under God” Lawsuit Heard by US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The San Jose Mercury News, in a Dec. 5, 2007 article titled “Atheist Has Another Go at Banning Pledge,” by staff writer Howard Mintz, wrote:

“Inside an ornate marble courtroom in San Francisco, one of the nation’s most persistent atheists tried yet again Tuesday [Dec. 4, 2007] to persuade a federal appeals court to strike down the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

But based on an hour of legal sparring and occasional musings about the meaning of God in public life, it is a tossup as to whether the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will take the same tack as five years ago, when it found the pledge in school unconstitutional because it contains the phrase ‘under God.’

A three-judge panel appeared divided on the latest legal challenge to the pledge, mounted by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, who has been on a crusade to remove the morning ritual from classrooms because he argues it amounts to government-backed religion in public school. Newdow also argued a separate case Tuesday [Dec. 4, 2007] before the 9th Circuit in which he maintains the ‘In God We Trust’ motto on U.S. money also violates the separation of church and state.

‘This is not a case of people who believe in God vs. people who don’t believe in God,’ Newdow told the judges, referring to the pledge challenge. ‘This is a case about treating people equally.'”

Dec. 5, 2007 San Jose Mercury News   

The Associated Press reported in a Dec. 4, 2007 article by writer Kim Curtis:

“An atheist pleaded with a federal appeals court to remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and ‘In God We Trust’ from U.S. currency, saying the references disrespect his religious beliefs.

‘I want to be treated equally,’ said Michael Newdow, who argued the cases consecutively to a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. He added that supporters of the phrases ‘want to have their religious views espoused by the government.’

Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, sued his daughter’s school district in 2000 for forcing public school children to recite the pledge, saying it was unconstitutional.

The 9th Circuit ruled in Newdow’s favor in 2002, but two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that he lacked standing to sue because he didn’t have custody of the daughter on whose behalf he brought the case. He immediately filed a second lawsuit on behalf of three unidentified parents and their children in another district.

In 2005, a federal judge in Sacramento again found in favor of Newdow, ruling the pledge was unconstitutional. The judge said he was following the precedent set by the 9th Circuit’s ruling in Newdow’s first case.”

Dec. 4, 2007 Associated Press   

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