Constitutional Law

9th Circuit Upholds Pledge's 'Under God' in Public Schools

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Because its “ostensible and predominant purpose was to inspire patriotism, the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t violate the Constitution’s establishment clause, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

In its opinion (PDF), the court also reversed an injunction banning students from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the district’s schools and ruled in a separate case that the “In God We Trust” motto on U.S. currency is also constitutional, Bloomberg reported.

In a dissent to today’s case, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote that the “under God” phrase, inserted into the pledge during the Cold War, has an “undeniably religious purpose.”

The cases were brought by atheist Michael Newdow, who didn’t immediately return messages from Bloomberg seeking comment.

Newdow brought his first suit challenging “under God” in federal court in 2000. The 9th Circuit ruled in his favor two years later (Reinhardt was on that panel), but the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of standing in 2004. He has also requested injunctions banning prayer at the last two presidential inaugurations, but federal courts rejected both requests.

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