Pledge under legal fire once again
I really don't want to do this story, because the courts have decided it on innumerable occasions, and every time I write about the American Humanist Association I get a ton of hate mail. But look around, it's not a particularly vibrant day for veterans related news, so you get this story, which seems to be about the 150th on a related subject.
A family is suing the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and its superintendent, seeking to have the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiancethat students recite every day.
A lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County on behalf of the family, who wish to remain unidentified, and the American Humanist Association claims that the practice of acknowledging God in the pledge of allegiance discriminates against atheists, in violation of New Jersey's constitution.
But the school district's attorney says the district is simply following a state law that requires pupils to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily.
You can almost feel the exasperation of the attorney in this quote:
"All we are doing is abiding by requirements of state law, we and approximately 590 other school districts in the state," said the attorney, David Rubin, to whom Schools Superintendent David M. Healy referred questions about the lawsuit.
"If the group who's brought this lawsuit questions the wisdom of that policy or the legality of it, we believe their arguments are much better directed to the state Legislature who's imposed this requirement on us, rather than suing an individual school district on this matter," Rubin said.
So here we go again. This suit will not only fail, but it will cost the local school district (and the American Humanist Association) a ton of money in legal fees, to reach a conclusion that has already been reached across the country. It's like a "Lawyer Protection Plan" since the only people that will gain from this are attorneys.
Just how settled is the law in this regards? Well, even Wiki has a good list:
On March 11, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in the case of Newdow v. Rio Linda Union School District. In a 2–1 decision, the appellate court ruled that the words were of a "ceremonial and patriotic nature" and did not constitute an establishment of religion. Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented, writing that "the state-directed, teacher-led daily recitation in public schools of the amended 'under God' version of the Pledge of Allegiance... violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution."
On November 12, 2010, in a unanimous decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a ruling by a New Hampshire lower federal court which found that the pledge's reference to God does not violate non-pledging students' rights if student participation in the pledge is voluntary. A United States Supreme Court appeal of this decision was denied on June 13, 2011.
So, in an attempt to represent one child who apparently isn't content to stand there silently, these groups will sue, lose, cost taxpayer money in a venue that isn't the proper one, and walk away no better or worse off than they were. But hey, it must be great PR for them.