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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case 1476

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "As reported in this article, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next year (most likely in June) involving whether public schools can lead students in a 'voluntary' recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. At issue in this case is whether the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge constitutes an establishment of religion on the part of the state and an infringement on students' religious liberty when it is recited in the public school setting. This case comes to the Supreme Court as an appeal of the June 2002 ruling made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--a decision that led to one of the most active stories in Slashdot history." The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic. Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity, and these are the laws in question. In theory students shouldn't be punished for failing to recite along with the rest of the class (due to a previous Supreme Court decision). No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.
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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

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  • Pledges (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:32PM (#7213750) Homepage Journal
    Pledges of this sort are not reprehensible because of the mention of deity.

    Made compulsory, such a pledge is worthless, meaningless and a supression of intellectual activity. It represents a repudiation of Jeffersonian ideals, as embodied in the Declaration of Independance and U.S. Constitution.

    Do we get to wear armbands, too?

  • by StyleChief ( 656649 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:38PM (#7213795)
    It is unfortunate that zealots (on any side) have made such an issue out of what should be a non-issue. I recited the Pledge daily as a child and recall no misgivings. I am not an especially patriotic fellow nor anti-government. I am not an especially religious fellow nor anti-religion. It seems that it might be a good thing to give schoolchildren a few moments to think about potentially more important things for a few moments a day. In reality, it becomes routine, and virtually no thought is probably given by a child. But in retrospect, I rather miss those days. Be it God, Allah, or whatever name one chooses to use, it is ALL under a greater mind than ours.
  • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:41PM (#7213811)
    I think it's a matter of timing. Back when the "under God" words were added to the Pledge back in the 50's I would have agreed that it was improper and it should have gone to the courts back then.

    I find it offensive that they want to declare it unconstitutional now. Yes, I believe in God. But God is with us regardless of whether or not we have the "under God" words in the Pledge. But at this point removing those words--or ANY words--from the Pledge is like removing a few words from the Star Spangled Banner. Just don't touch it.

    I am optimistic the Supreme Court will recognize that the Pledge, in its entirety, is part of our national culture. For better or worse, whatever religious overtones "under God" may have should have been argued nearly half a century ago before it became a part of our culture.

    Just like "In God We Trust" on dollar bills. Probably improper, I probably wouldn't have put it there myself, nor does it change my life drastically whether it's there or not. But now that it's there, leave it alone. Don't mess with our culture and traditions.

  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:01PM (#7213970) Journal
    The pledge was enacted into law by Congress in 1954, with one small addition: The words 'under God' were added between 'one nation' and 'indivisible.'

    When I say "enacted into law", I mean they officially wrote it out as "this is our official pledge, endourced by the governemnt." - not "law" in the sense that you could get into trouble if you said it differenctly. (Like running a red light is against the law)

    So whlie it's still not a clear case by any means, I am inclined to say that this teases the borders of the first ammendment - namely, that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion. I read "establishment" as any kind of religion, even atheism would count... and "respecting" as officially recognizing said "establishment".

    That's why this issue still lingers - Congress made a real law that recognized religion. Perhaps no specific religion, and perhaps not an endorsement persay, but definately recognition.

    As for the treasury, there's no law saying that "In God We Trust" should appear on the bill. In fact I doubt there's really any official document requiring it - it's just something they've always done. And as the parent mentioned, the Treasury isn't Congress, or even a part of the government persay, so the first ammendment doesn't apply.
  • by frankthechicken ( 607647 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:17PM (#7214167) Journal
    When I moved to Connecticut from England when I was about ten, I was constantly threatened with suspension for refusing to recite the pledge. Even at that age, it felt like brainwashing. Indeed during a great deal of the Social Studies courses I attended, there was what seemed a constant stream of "America the great" propaganda, with little(if any) contrary examples to the goodness of the country.

    Looking back, I don't have too many problems with that style of education, as each country I lived in had a fair amount of this form of patriotism. I just probably wasn't used to it after what was a broadly cynincal education in the UK(i.e being taught that conquering over half the globe, and colouring it pink, was NOT a good thing).

    However at the time, and not too suprisingly, I encountered a fair amount of problems with class mates for my stance, with the usual(and expected) calls of "If you don't like it, then get the hell out of our country". Still it was nothing compared to the bashing I got when they found out I was a pomme with an American accent when I moved to Australia.
  • brainwashing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jtilak ( 596402 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:42PM (#7214515) Journal
    When I was a kid, I recited the pledge just like everyone else in my school every morning. I memorized it. I had no idea what it meant. Talk about brainwashing. They never once told me that I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to. We never once discussed what the pledge meant. Why do we make kids do this? Whats the point? Shouldn't we wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves before we have them make pledges?

    By the way, as far as I know, America is the only country whose citzens pledge allegience to a FLAG.
  • alegiance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pyrrho ( 167252 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:47PM (#7215128) Journal
    I agree with you about the danger of allegiance but let me also say it's a matter of what you ahve to allege to.

    If you allege to a Queen, or to a Flag or even a country, that's a bit like a blank check. Unconditional support, right or wrong.

    But if you allege to the Constitution of the United States of America, well there are ideas there that you can allege to or not, and that allegience might actually, if real, force you to stand up and criticice your country or flag or queen.

    I say the correct answer is to change the pledge to one where it's the Constitution that is alleged to, because it really does express, for better or worse but mostly better, the real core meaning of being American.

  • by Dukeofshadows ( 607689 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @09:08PM (#7215292) Journal
    I decided not to give the pledge of allegiance for the better part of my high school career and caught hell for it early on. Kids are very pure in their actions and tend not to be as political, so if they think you're out of line they let you know. Middle and high school teaches conformity as much as knowledge, and even the teachers encourage the recitation of the pledge. Acting on principle or doing what is right, especially at that age, is neither easy or without reprecussions, and it is much easier to go with the crowd than voice your mind.

    The way I got out of it was when one of my teachers saw me not pledging for years and brought the issue to a head. I told him that I truly love this nation and its ideals but that prostituting such for the notion of conformity both cheapens my humanity and belittles my respect of this country. Oddly enough most of the students agreed in principle and only a few of them continued giving me trouble after that.
  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @09:33PM (#7215414)
    Given the sometimes cruel nature of peer pressure and cliques in public schools, do students really have that much of a viable choice in this matter--or do they risk being labeled as "anti-American" and treated as a social outcast if they decide to sit out on the recitation of the pledge? I'd argue that there's more to it from a social standpoint than students just not saying the pledge if they don't want to.

    I declined to say the pledge throughout high school, but I don't think it was that big of a deal. I was reasonably popular, and nobody ever raised the issue.

    It's more of an issue for me now, because the pledge is recited at my kid's school assemblies. Out of a crowd of hundreds of adults (this is in a somewhat conservative town) I am always the only one standing silent with my hands by my side. It's beyond uncomfortable. Many other parents stare at me with looks of incredulity and often outright anger. Judging from the looks I've received, I expect to be physically confronted sooner or later.

    Screw 'em, I say. I will not profess to a belief which I do not hold.
  • by praedor ( 218403 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @10:06PM (#7215591) Homepage

    The crap motto "In God We Trust" has NOT always been on our money. That too was added VERY late, during the anti-commie hysteria. It should go if you want to keep to historic principals. Keep your god to yourself, it has no hold on me and attempts to enshrine her or codify her into laws invalidate those laws for me as the very basis for such laws is nonsensical bull poop.

  • Mark My Words... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goldmeer ( 65554 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @11:43PM (#7216241)
    Regardless of the United States Supreme Court's ruling, the words "under God" will be in the Pledge.

    It really comes down to 2 options:
    1. The SC rules that it is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    IRC, this has already happened not once, but twice. Life goes on until the next time it is challenged. *yawn*

    2. The SC rules that the words "under God" ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    If this happens, then things get fun. I would not be suprised to see a Constitutional Amendment proposed that specifically states that the United States of America has a Pledge of Allegiance and specifically states what that pledge is. This pledge will include the words "under God" This proposal will be approved in the House and Senate with speed to match the " Oops, We Forgot to Give Authority to Implement the Do Not Call List Bill" (Not the real name) that was passed within days of the courts ruling that the previous bill passed wasn't done right. Within weeks, enough states will have ratified he new proposed Constitutional Amendment, making any claims that the pledge is unconstitional moot, since something specified in the constitution cannot be unconstitutional. (Did I just say that?) You see, that is how checks and balances work, congress passes a law, president vetoes it, congress overrides the veto, the courts rule it unconstutional, the congress amendmends the constitution, the states ratify the change. Like I said, it gets fun then.

    Now, a real Conspericy Nut (IANACN, Figure it out) would go on to state that the whole process has been initated to get the American Voting Sheep used to congress messing with the Constitution, by floating out some softball issue like the Pledge, then propose something else, then something else, then what the heck, repeal one or two existing amendments, then add another one or two... Rinse, and repeat... If it goes in reeeeaaaalllly slowly, it dosen't hurt as much, I've been told.

    Again IANACN, but I do love to play Devil's Advocate.

    Then again, I could be wrong. It's be known to happen regularly.
  • Re:"under god" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @12:52AM (#7216524) Homepage Journal
    but you shouldn't be practicing your religion where it alienates others.

    So I need to hide in the closet then?

    After all, atheism and Christianity are equal, right?

    In my own eyes, of course, I don't view them as equal.

    But in the eyes of the law, yes, they are. I don't want any laws mandating that students in public schools must say "under God". Neither do I want any laws forbidding students to say it. And to be equal, I don't want any laws mandating their recital of "under no god" either.

    On a side note, it was a Jehovah Witness friend of mine in elementary school that first made the first ammendment understandable to me. I had heard all the arguments on every side of the issue. But it was the understanding that he had the legal right to be a Jehovah's Witness inside the walls of a public school that brought it all home.

    p.s. Later on in life I realized that the real problem wasn't separation of church and state, but rather, the lack of separation of school and state. These sorts of problems just don't occur in private schools, secular or otherwise. Of course, this is a different topic entirely, but it's worth thinking about. How do you reconcile a public education system that stresses bland conformity within a pluralistic and multicultural society?
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @04:47AM (#7217387) Journal
    For fucks sake! your president talks about god all the time and half his voters and party think hes gods gift, do you not think this slightly more of an issue? Do you not think he might have a slight vested interest or biased opinion leading to violation of the bill of rights? Does this mean that if the court decides that 'under god' shouldnt be there then Bush should go? well i can
    kill the suspense now and tell you that the mostly-friends-of-bush supreme court will be deciding in favour of god.

    George Bush states that atheists are not citizens or patriots []

    Bush puts God on his side []

    George Bush Invites God to School []

    America Attacked Iraq, Because God Told George Bush To []

    President George "W" Bush: God's Man for This Hour []

    Is George W. Bush God?s President? []

    Bush announces war with plea for God's blessing []

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