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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 14, 2004 1:21 PM. The previous post in this blog was Rotten News of the Day. The next post in this blog is More rotten news. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, June 14, 2004

"Under God"? We may never know

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-3 (with Justice Scalia sitting this one out because he made a speech about it) that the atheist dad who successfully sued to stop his daughter's public school from saying "under God" in the daily Pledge of Allegiance does not have standing to bring his suit.

This does not mean that the High Court believes the school's practice is constitutional. It means that the father did not have the right to bring the claim because he was too removed from whatever harm was allegedly suffered by the daily recitation of the pledge. Mostly it has to do with the fact that the dad is divorced from the child's mom, the mom has custody of the daughter, and the mom didn't want her daughter involved in the lawsuit.

This also does not mean that the constitutionality of "under God" won't come up again. Legally, it's as if the lawsuit in question simply had never been brought. Another disgruntled atheist parent with custody -- or even a disgruntled atheist student -- would likely have standing.

But few are likely to be as offended, as persistent, and as effective as the plaintiff in the case decided today, Michael Newdow. And so we may not know for a long time whether the phrase is o.k. or not.

Comments (14)

Read the Thomas concurrence. Wacky.

Are you kidding me?
As a kid I was vehementally against it.
Refused to say it in class.
As a matter of fact, I was really anti-american at that stage (3rd grade), and that clause really fueled my fire and hardened my reasoning in that respect.

In high school I was really pissy about the legalities of being able to die for my country, yet not able to consume any particular libation (the 18-21 years.)

Now I'm just a pissy unemployed Oregonian.

Michael Newdow needs to have another kid, quick.

I think (from NY Times) that the actual ruling that Newdow lacked standing was 8-0, not 5-3, but with Stevens writing for 5 that it is because Newdow is the non-custodial parent, and mom actually wants a religeous upbringing for the kid, so the dad has no standing, while the remaining 3 (Thomas, O'Connor, Rehnquist) wrote separately that, correct, no standing, but also it's constitutional. Can't check your link though, because it takes me to a KGW story about Katz's upcoming chemotherapy.

Link's been corrected. Am re-reading the concurring opinions now.

No, Renchy, Sandra and the High-Tech Lynching Victim all clearly state that they feel Newdow has standing.

Linda, if you think Justice Thomas is "wacky," you should give $50 to John Kerry. Because if W. is re-elected, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

I think the proper word to describe Michael Newdow is not "offended," but "offensive."

Oh, I hear you, Jack. I was just very surprised by that opinion. It's not every day you see the answer to whether it's unconstitutional for the federal government to establish a national religion given by a Supreme Court Justice as "Probably."

He does get a little off track when there's no Scalia opinion for him to concur in. 8c)

"The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart summed up the SCOTUS avoidance the best. The guy got all the way to the Supreme Court and they just let it drop. I think they were correct in dropping the case, I just wish the common-sense (legally) was present a little lower than the highest court.

I was thinking about the case this morning, when I first heard about it... It would make sense to try and get this case back up there ASAP, I suppose.

At this point the smartest thing to do is not to have Michael Newdow have another kid but to find someone else who is equally pissed off about it -- and then have Newdow represent him or her.

After all, he did a fantastic job presenting his arguments on his own, and considering he is in fact a lawyer he might as well bring the suit on behalf of someone else. Consistency, right?

I expected this. It may be the right ruling, but boy is it unsatisfying.

The Supreme Court is pretty sketchy.

Read Justice Thomas' opinion and it becomes quite obvious why Newdow does not have standing.

It was going to be difficult for the court to distinguish the LEE case from NEWDOW's case. However, removing "under God" from the pledge would have caused public outrage. Yet, if Thomas' is right and the Establishment Clause does not apply to the States, then there goes 100 years of American Jurisprudence. The Supreme Court could not decide that case on its merits, they had to find a way out.

This case is going to come back up before the court, and they better start distinguishing LEE in the next couple of years, or else we're going to be stuck with Thomas' concurrence.

The question of newdows standing has been open from day one. How on earth this case got as high as it did shows the ignorance and incompetence (not to mention grandstanding political bias) of our judiciary.

SCOTUS should have sent a strongly worded reprimand back down the ladder to every court who was unable to recognize that newdow never had a legal leg to stand on.

And God forbid (and yes, i mean GOD) any of us ever have to appear before these fools.


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