While the vote total on last week's refusal to reconsider the Pledge decision was not made public, nine judges took part in written dissents. 9th Circuit Upholds Pledge Decision

Solidifying its reputation as a "runaway train of liberal activism," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week refused to reconsider its controversial decision over the Pledge of Allegiance.

In June, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit voted 2-1 that the phrase "under God," inserted into the Pledge in 1954 by an act of Congress, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The case was brought by Sacramento atheist-activist Michael Newdow who argued that his second-grade daughter was "injured" by having to listen to the words "one nation 'under God'" being recited by classmates. It has since been widely reported that Newdow's daughter is a Christian, who willingly recited the full Pledge in class and who regularly attends church with her mother, Sandra Banning, with whom Newdow is embroiled in a custody dispute.

Following last year's ruling and resulting public outcry, the Justice Department, the Bush Administration, the U.S. Congress, State of California and the Elk Grove Unified School District, where Newdow's daughter attends school, formally requested the Ninth Circuit hold an "en banc" hearing, in which a randomly selected 10-judge panel (plus the Chief Judge) reviews three-judge panel decisions. It takes a vote of at least 13 of the court's 24 active judges to grant such a review. While the vote total on last week's refusal to reconsider the Pledge decision was not made public, nine judges took part in written dissents.

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit issued a 90-day stay of its Pledge ruling pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For more background on this debate, read One Nation, Under Siege by Establishment Clause Revisionism

March 3, 2003
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