Opinions on the Pledge of Allegiance ruling
(CNN) -- A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is an unconstitutional "endorsement of religion" because of the addition of the phrase "under God" in 1954 by Congress.
"The recitation that ours is a nation 'under God' is not a mere acknowledgment that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the Republic. Rather, the phrase 'one nation under God' in the context of the Pledge is normative. To recite the Pledge is not to describe the United States; instead, it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and -- since 1954 -- monotheism. The text of the official Pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God. A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion."
-- Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, majority opinion for himself and Judge Stephen Reinhardt
"[L]egal world abstractions and ruminations aside, when all is said and done, the danger that 'under God' in our Pledge of Allegiance will tend to bring about a theocracy or suppress somebody's beliefs is so minuscule as to be de minimis. The danger that phrase presents to our First Amendment freedoms is picayune at most ... upon Newdow's theory of our Constitution, accepted by my colleagues today, we will soon find ourselves prohibited from using our album of patriotic songs in many public settings. 'God Bless America' and 'America The Beautiful' will be gone for sure, and while use of the first and second stanzas of the 'Star Spangled Banner' will still be permissible, we will be precluded from straying into the third. And currency beware! Judges can accept those results if they limit themselves to elements and tests, while failing to look at the good sense and principles that animated those tests in the first place."
-- Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, dissenting opinion
'You don't need powerful lobbies'
"I think the Constitution has been upheld. I think they made the right decision ...
The Constitution says that government isn't supposed to be infusing religion into our society, and so I asked to have that upheld ... It's one of the nice things about this nation that when the Constitution is violated, if it affects you, you can bring a suit. You don't need powerful lobbies, you can just do it as an individual which I did."
-- Dr. Michael Newdow, plaintiff
"That judge who shouldn't be a judge in my opinion ... let me say this, that I hope his name doesn't come before this body for any promotion. He will be remembered. He will be remembered ... I hope the Senate will waste no time in throwing this back in the face of this stupid judge. Stupid. That's what he is, stupid."
-- Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia
'A stupid ruling'
"This is obviously an unbelievable decision, as far as I'm concerned. And an incorrect ruling, and a stupid ruling. Either it's got to be overturned en banc by the Ninth Circuit or by a higher court, or we will do it in the Congress."
-- Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi
'So much out of the mainstream...'
"This decision is so much out of the mainstream of thinking of Americans and the culture and values that we hold in America, that any Congressman that voted to take it out would be putting his tenure in Congress in jeopardy at the next election ... It is no surprise that belief in God is something that a vast majority of Americans hold not only in a spiritual way but in a political way as well ... "
-- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
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