Whatever happened with "under god" in the Pledge of Allegience?

Remember a few years ago and the Supreme Court rules that it was unconstitutional to have the “under god” in the Pledge of Allegience? Or something like that? My memory is hazy now. Has the phrase been struck from the PoA?

You are probably thinking of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.

Short version: Michael Newdow, a self-avowed atheist, brought a case against the school district claiming the “under God” part of the pledge was unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which apparently has a bit of a reputation for being unconventional/liberal in some of its rulings) agreed with him. On appeal, the Supreme Court overturned the decision on a technicality, since Newdow did not have legal custody of his daughter at the time, and thus was not considered to have sufficient standing to bring the case on her behalf at all.

Ahh, thanks for the update.

This is a commonly held myth, fostered by right wing republicans who would like to break the 9th Dist. Court in two, giving them the opportunity to pad it w/ more right wing judges.
From here: Law.com
“In fact, while it is frequently reported that 17 of the 24 active judges were appointed by Democrats, this sly insinuation about the politics of the court is simply mistaken. Of the 24 active judges, 12 are clearly conservatives, six are moderates, and only six could fairly be characterized as liberals”

Thank you for clarifying that A.R. Cane. I used the word “apparently” because I was only basing that comment on hearsay.

Supplemental to all this, I know of no non-“fringe” arguments that the Pledge itself, as a voluntary statement of allegiance whose text has been established by statute, is (or should be found to be) unconstitutional.

The arguments about the Pledge are two: (1) mandatory or coercive recitation of it is a violation of freedom of speech, a position endorsed by SCOTUS (Barnette v. West Virginia State Board of Education, 1941) and settled law of the land; (2) the use of it in schools, even in an allegedly “voluntary” circumstance, is a violation of the Establishment Clause owing to the “under God” clause, Newdow’s claim and never litigated past the Circuit Court of Appeals level.

The text of the pledge has been changed several times over the years and “under God” was not part of the original version.

It was written by Francis Bellamy (who was a socialist and a Baptist minister, which points out the differences in the 19th century political landscape) in 1892, and its original version was: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It caught national attention and was supported by a Presidential proclamation after being slightly revised by changing “to my Flag and the Republic” to “to my Flag and to the Republic”.

In the 1920s, some people began pushing to change “my Flag” to “the Flag of the United States of America”. This change was enacted by Congress in 1945. It was also around this time that the hand-over-the-heart salute replaced the original arm-out-straight-and-palm-down salute, which was essentially the same as the Nazi salute.

The change of “one nation indivisible” to “one nation under God indivisible” (if nothing else it should have been “under God and indivisible”) was enacted by Congress in 1954. This created the version we’ve been using.

IIRC it was actually that specific statute that Newdow was challenging in his suit.

Little Nemo: Beautiful summary of the history behind the Pledge. I’d take one minor nitpick, though: The “under God” added in 1954 was supposed to be an appositive set off by commas (and also getting rid of the Mondegreenism “one naked individual” for “one nation, indivisible”): “…for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty…”

It has been a long time since I paid much attention to circuits other than the ones in which I practice. But the idea that the 9th is liberal - at least on some issues - is strong and longlasting indeed. (In my field of practice, the 2d may be the most consistently liberal.)

I have a hazy recollection of hearing that the 9th court consistently reversed all death sentences, revising them to life imprisonment. My understanding was that at least to some extent this reflected the politics of the chief judge (female, I forget her name).

I readily admit that my memory may be incorrect regarding the above, or that even if I remembering correctly, the information I remember may be inaccurate.

The 9th probably gets its “liberal” label for being located in San Francisco, more than any possible valid reason.

Of course it doesn’t. Google “circuit court of appeals reversal rate” and you will come up with a ton of stuff outlining why it is known as a “rogue” court.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a long time held the title of most reversed appllate court of the circuits. It had a very strong liberal wing, and those liberals were very consistently reversed when taken to the Supreme Court on cert.

Whether that remains true in 2007 or not, I don’t know. I stopped paying attention a long time ago; I just figure that, if you win a liberal decision from the Ninth, you can count on cert. and reversal by the SCotUS. :stuck_out_tongue:

As to the original question, the case filed by Nedow which resulted in a determination in his favor by the judge in the District Court in 2005 has been appealed and briefing has taken place. Nedow’s website doesn’t say when oral arguments are scheduled, only estimating they will take place in July.

You might be thinking of Rose Bird, who was the top dog on the California Supreme Court, and most certainly a liberal’s liberal.

That’s the name.
Wrong court - bad on me.

This is a hijack, but should they have taken out the word “indivisible” when the added “under God”? Few things are more divisive then religion, and proposed solution has been that students and the citizenry be divided up into believers who say the pledge and non-believers who don’t.


Everybody says the pledge. But non-believers (or believers in “no establishment of religion”) just don’t say the “under god” words.

I was at a recent Minnesota DFL Party meeting that started with the Pledge of Allegiance, and there was a noticeable drop in volume at those 2 words. But everyone I could see was saying the Pledge.