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Senators call Pledge decision 'stupid'

Sen. Byrd, D-West Virginia, says he voted to add 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
Sen. Byrd, D-West Virginia, says he voted to add 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Shortly after a federal appeals court ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, the Senate Wednesday approved a resolution "expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance" and asking Senate counsel to "seek to intervene in the case."

The resolution passed 99-0.

The Senate resolution came about quickly after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were outraged as news spread of the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional "endorsement of religion" because of the addition of the phrase "under God" in 1954 by Congress.

In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor just before the resolution vote, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, said he is the only remaining member of Congress who voted for the addition of "under God" on June 7, 1954. He warned the judges who declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional to never come before him because "he'll be blackballed."

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  •  Man behind landmark pledge ruling
  •  Pledge back in court
  •  Mom: Girl not harmed by pledging 'under God'
  •  Justice Department's filing (PDF)
  •  On the Scene: Toobin: Pledge ruling likely 'dead on arrival'
  •  CNN Access: Litigant explains why he brought Pledge suit
  •  History of the Pledge
  •  Read the court decision: Newdow v. U.S. Congress, et al.
(FindLaw) (PDF)
  •  Judges in Pledge of Allegiance decision
  •  Gallery: A look at the three-judge panel that made the ruling

"I wonder if that judge would hold the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional," said Byrd.

"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."

Meanwhile, House Speaker Dennis Hastert Wednesday said the decision underscores the need for the Senate to confirm "some common sense jurists."

In a statement, Hastert said:

"Obviously, the liberal court in San Francisco has gotten this one wrong. Of course, we are one nation, under God. The Pledge of Allegiance is a patriotic salute that brings people of all faiths together to share in the American spirit.

"I strongly believe that parents, teachers and local schools should encourage children to recite the pledge to start the day, the same way those of us in Congress begin our daily business, (and) not allow a liberal judge to take it away. It's time for the Senate to move forward and confirm some common-sense jurists."

At one point late Wednesday, about 100-150 House members, mostly Republicans, gathered on the steps outside the Capitol and recited the Pledge of Allegiance in a show of support.

House Members
House members gather on the steps outside the Capitol late Wednesday to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a show of support.  

The Senate resolution was pushed quickly to the floor by Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, with the backing of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi.

Of the court's ruling, Daschle said, "This decision is nuts."

Lott concurred: "This is obviously an unbelievable decision, as far as I am concerned, and an incorrect ruling and a stupid ruling."




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