The first legal brief in opposition to the controversial Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because it contains the words “under God” has been filed by a California-based legal action group.
The U.S. Justice Foundation, in its Monday filing, calls for the Ninth Circuit to grant a rehearing of the decision, based on the fact that Newdow v. United States Congress, et al. is a “tremendously important” case with regard to religious freedom and rights.
Michael Newdow claimed the pledge was unconstitutional because it exposed his daughter to religious views that opposed his atheistic worldview.
“The voluntary Pledge of Allegiance does not proselytize or substantially burden anyone such that one could conclude that religion is being forced onto unwilling persons,” the USJF brief states.
In addition to his case involving the Pledge of Allegiance, Newdow has also expressed a desire to strike “in God we trust” from U.S. currency and delete any reference to God in the presidential inauguration.
Gary Kreep, executive director of USJF, says “anti-patriotic” organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way are trying to “ban God” from every public place. They “love” Newdow, says Kreep, because he’s playing right into their agenda.
“This guy is the poster boy of these whackos on the Left,” he noted.
One element USJF emphasizes in its brief is the “educational freedom issue” – an aspect of the case Kreep says has been mostly overlooked. Mandating that schools or students cannot recite the Pledge of Allegiance is an infringement upon their religious and educational freedoms, he says.
“Schools have the right to say, ‘We want to say the Pledge of Allegiance,’” argued Kreep.
“The Constitution does not, on its face, suggest that those who would engage in religious speech must leave their constitutional protection at the schoolhouse steps,” states the brief.
The brief was filed on behalf of several California state legislators and national organizations, including Focus on the Family, Liberty Counsel and the Traditional Values Coalition. Kreep says one of the reasons for submitting the brief was to represent the people of California and other states who oppose the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
California Gov. Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer “didn’t care enough about the pledge” to try and fight the court’s decision or file a brief, says Kreep. Now that they are both up for re-election and the ruling has received so much publicity, he says, they suddenly disagree with the court.
Kreep says USJF will “definitely” present a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court as well to try and make an impact on the judicial proceedings.
“I believe it [the pledge case] will go to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “I believe the U.S. Supreme Court will say that people have a right to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and it should not be barred.”