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On-Line Legal Debate on the Pledge
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Over at TNR, legal experts Jeffrey Rosen and Roger T. Severino are engaged in an ongoing, letter-based debate on the Constitutionality of the students being led in the Pledge of Allegiance by public school teachers.

It strikes me how virtually every proponent of the status quo misrepresents the actual issue.

Here's part of Severino's first entry:

Let's clarify the dispute. The plaintiff does not claim anyone is being forced to recite the Pledge (as such coercion was held unconstitutional well before the words "under God" were added). Instead, he objects to the words "under God" being in the Pledge at all.

Um, not to put too fine a point on it, but...bullshit.

From the official court documentation:

Michael Newdow appeals a judgment dismissing his challenge to the constitutionality of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Newdow argues that the addition of these words by a 1954 federal statute to the previous version of the Pledge of Allegiance (which made no reference to God) and the daily recitation in the classroom of the Pledge of Allegiance, with the added words included, by his
daughter's public school teacher
are violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Newdow's complaint in the district court challenged the constitutionality, under the First Amendment, of the 1954 Act, the California statute, and the school district's policy
requiring teachers to lead willing students in recitation of the Pledge. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief, but did not seek damages.

Which basically means, he wants the state to stop leading kids in the Pledge. He's not asking for the wording to be changed, and he's not asking for money.

Yes, let's "clarify" the dispute, all right.

What a jag-off.

Again, Severino:

If the Supreme Court banishes the Pledge and blots out all references to our Creator from our schools, the courts and censors will be very busy indeed.

Well yeah...if anybody was actually calling for that. But hey...they're not! It's perfectly fine to have bibles in the school library, along with other religious texts. It's fine for "god", "Jesus", "Buddha", and plenty of other references to religious figures to be in textbooks. It is, in fact, important for students to be informed about the various belief systems that have existed historically and that exist today...they're an integral aspect of human society, and one cannot have an informed view of history or literature or politics without at least a cursory understanding of the tenets of the major world religions.

But teachers are not supposed to endorse any religion, or any areligious viewpoint either. Their job, oddly enough, is to teach, not preach. They shouldn't be advocating religious viewpoints, or leading prayers, or leading pledges that implicitly recognize the existence of god.

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