Steve Weatherbee at the National Catholic Register happily updates an old story.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has issued a surprising judgment upholding the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance and reversing an earlier decision.
Congress inserted the reference at the instigation of the Knights of Columbus some 56 years ago. The Catholic fraternal organization was one of the defendants-intervenors in this case.
Also arguing for the God clause was the U.S. Department of Justice and the Rio Linda, Calif., Union School District.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the public school district did not force a specific religion on several unnamed student plaintiffs by holding the pledge ceremony daily in their classrooms. Therefore, they did not violate the establishment clause in the Constitution’s First Amendment, which forbids the state from establishing a religion.
“The decision is a victory for common sense,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “It is a welcome reversal of the 9th Circuit’s 2002 decision in a similar case that was ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court on technical grounds. Today the court got it absolutely right: Recitation of the pledge is a patriotic exercise, not a religious prayer.”