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The federal appeals court judge who ruled “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional may have found the outrage over his controversial decision hitting a little too close to home, as protesters gathered outside his Pasadena, Calif., house for a rally yesterday.
“When I heard that we would be illegal if we prayed ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance in school it blew me away,” rally organizer Pastor Wiley Drake told WND.
The pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park led about 100 demonstrators in prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance during the peaceful four-hour rally.
“Americans need to stand up, speak up, or shut up. … It’s time for us to say, ‘We’re one nation under God,’ not Allah, not Vishnu, Al Gore or whoever else,” said Drake, who also serves as the Orange County representative of JAIL4judges.org. The group is pushing an amendment to the California Constitution it calls the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) as a check against judicial misconduct and abuse of power. According to the group’s website, the initiative would create three statewide special grand juries for the purpose of investigating complaints against judges, sanctioning and levying fines, and indicting judges.
“[The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] has the highest overturn rate in the country. Ninety-two percent of its decisions are overturned by other courts,” said Drake. “But because [Judge Goodwin] is appointed for life he’s a Teflon judge. He thinks he can get away with it. Well, I’ve got news for him. We’re going to stop these reckless judges, shout them down and shut them down.”
Last week, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Pledge is unconstitutional because of the
addition of the phrase “under God” by Congress in 1954. The case was filed by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, who argued his 8-year-old daughter is injured when she is compelled to “watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a God, and that our’s [sic] is ‘one nation under God.'” In his written opinion Judge Alfred Goodwin wrote, “The statement that the U.S. is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism. … To recite the Pledge … is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and ? since 1954 ? monotheism.”
The 2-1 ruling prompted outrage from President Bush, Congress, statehouses, clergy members and the public.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 84 percent of those surveyed oppose the decision.
Judge Goodwin ordered a stay of the ruling the following day, temporarily blocking enforcement.
“It was a bit of fire control,” Goodwin explained to the Associated Press. “It’s kind of a squirt of a little coolant on the fire until it calms down. I didn’t consider it caving in to pressure.”
David Madden, public information officer of the 9th Circuit told WND the judge would have no comment on the protest outside his house.
In addition to the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park and JAIL4judges.org, other organizations participating in the demonstration included Americans United for the Unity of Church and State, Christians United of San Diego, Set Free Motorcycle Ministries and Crusade Radio.
Turnout paled in comparison to the 65,000 that attended the protest Drake organized against the “Last Temptation of Christ” movie in 1988.
Apparently anticipating a large crowd the U.S. Marshal Service was on hand in numbers large “enough to protect four presidents,” according to Drake.
“Numberswise, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” said Drake. “But I think we made our point.”