Many of us who grew up learning the current iteration of the Pledge of Allegiance may be unaware that the phrase was added relatively recently after efforts led by the Knights of Columbus succeeded in convincing Congress to add the phrase in 1954. The constitutionality of the phrase had been challenged by an atheist in California, Dr. Michael Newdow. Dr. Newdow, a physician with a law degree, filed the suit in 2005. He argued that reciting a Pledge which included these words in public schools violated the Constitutional rights of his daughter.
The majority opinion of the 9th Circuit Court was written by Judge Carlos T. Bea. In part, his summary of the Court’s decision said, “Not every mention of God or religion by our government or at the government's direction is a violation of the Establishment Clause" [of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution]. He goes on to say, "Without knowing the history behind these words, one might well think the phrase 'one nation under God' could not be anything but religious. History, however, shows these words have an even broader meaning, one grounded in philosophy and politics and reflecting many events of historical significance. The pledge is constitutional. The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one nation under God -- the founding fathers' belief that the people of this nation are endowed by their Creator."
The 9th Circuit Court, in a separate decision which it announced in mid-March, ruled unanimously that Dr. Newdow didn’t have legal standing to challenge the use of the words “in God we trust” on U.S. currency. Once again, Judge Bea wrote the majority opinion for the court, saying, "Although Newdow alleges the national motto turned atheists into political outsiders and inflicts a stigmatic injury upon them, an 'abstract stigmatic injury' resulting from such outsider status is insufficient to confer standing."
I’m truly glad that the 9th Court upheld the Constitutionality of these phrases, but I suspect that a successful challenge may eventually be raised. In the meanwhile, let us enjoy the freedom to use these phrases.
“One nation under God”
“In God we trust”
Do non-Americans cope with stuff such as this,
or are we the only folks who bend over backwards to be politically correct?