9th Circuit Pledge of Allegiance Ruling
March 11, 2010 at 4:16 PM
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided today that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is not an impermissible government endorsement of religion: Newdow v. Rio Linda Union School District (05-17257). Judge Reinhart, dissented on the grounds that daily recitation in public schools of the Pledge of Allegiance, as amended in 1954 to include the words “under God,” violates the Establishment clause of the U.S. constitution. (See 4 U.S.C. section 4, as amended by Pub.L. No. 396, Ch. 297, 68 Stat. 249 (1954)).
In a separate case, also decided today, the same Court affirmed the order from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissing the same plaintiff’s objection to use of the words “In God We Trust” on U.S. money: Newdow v. U.S. Congress (06-16344). Judge Reinhart concurred in the result, following the precedent in Rio Linda, above.
In 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had held that a school district policy requiring public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance including the words “under God” was unconstitutional: Newdow v. U.S. Congress, 292 F.3d 597 (2002), amended 328 F.3d 446 (2003). On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case because Newdow, as a noncustodial parent, lacked standing to bring suit on his daughter’s behalf: Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004)