Ernie says it all far better than I can…
“Millions of American schoolchildren — including almost all adults who grew up in the US — have for two generations recited a daily pledge of allegiance in schools. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that pledge to be a violation of the US Constitution. Social conservatives are outraged, liberals are smirking, and many of us are just stunned.” [kuro5hin.org]
It is sort of stunning, but a couple of things to note. First, it was a 2-1 decision and I’m sure there will be en banc review (that means a review by the entire group of judges that compose the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals). I don’t know enough about the Ninth Circuit to hazard a guess as to how that review will turn out, but it will take awhile for en banc review to occur. So let’s not get too worked up yet.
Oh, and not that it matters, but the words “under God” were not always in the Pledge of Allegiance. They were added in a 1954 federal law. After reading the opinion quickly, I agree with the dissenting judge (Judge Fernandez) that the religious effect of those words is minimal and doesn’t impinge on the citizenry’s “free exercise” of religion. But I’m sure, given that this sort of case is a real hot-button decision, we’ll all be getting worked up based on our feelings about religion, rather than based on sound constitutional legal principles. The “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment has been interpreted in many cases, and the question in this case is a pure legal question, not a moral/social question. And that is the way it should be, but you can be sure that the mainstream medial won’t portray it that way.[Ernie the Attorney]