Atheist Pledge Of Allegiance Case Goes To Massachusetts’ Supreme Court

Source: The Huffington Post

Religion News Service  |  By Kimberly Winston

(RNS) Massachusetts’ highest court on Wednesday (Sept. 4) will consider whether the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of students’ rights.

Since the addition of the phrase “under God” in 1954, the pledge has been challenged repeatedly as a violation of the separation of church and state. In 2004, one case reached the Supreme Court, but ultimately failed, as have all previous challenges.

But the current case before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, is different because lawyers for the plaintiffs, an anonymous atheist couple, won’t be arguing about federal law but rather that the compulsory recitation of the pledge violates the state’s equal rights laws. They argue that the daily recitation of the pledge is a violation of their guarantee of equal protection under those laws.

This change of tack in pledge challenges is modeled on a successful precedent laid down in the same court on gay marriage. In 2003, Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 in favor of a same-sex couple seeking the right to marry under the state’s equal rights laws. Their win led to similar successful challenges in other state courts — something that could happen here if judges rule for the plaintiffs.

“You would then see a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is arguing for the defendants. “A win for us would completely avoid that unnecessary harm. And it would affirm that it is not discriminatory to have the words ‘under God’ in the pledge.”

“There is disagreement, but there is not discrimination,” Rassbach continued. “That is what is at the heart of this — disagreement about what the government should do.”

The plaintiffs are represented by the American Humanist Association, a national advocacy group for humanists and other secularists. David Niose, the plaintiffs’ attorney and president of the AHA, could not be reached for comment.

The defendants won the first round in June 2012 when a lower court judge ruled that daily recitation of the pledge did not violate the Massachusetts Constitution, the school district’s anti-discrimination policy or state law. The upcoming oral arguments address an appeal of that decision.

Reference

Categories: Americas, United States

2 replies

  1. No one should ever stand for, nor chant, the Pledge of Allegiance because it was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (see the new book “Pledge of Allegiance + Swastika Secrets” by the author Ian Tinny, regarding the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry). The gesture was not merely similar. It is brainwashing and continues to cause Nazi behavior. Francis Bellamy was a religious wacko, a “Chrisitan Socialist” and his pledge was originally a small part of a larger program that included hymns, prayers, and references to the Bible and God, including the phrase “under God.” That is why the original full pledge program cannot be performed in government schools (socialist schools).

  2. So you have to have the Government intrude another step in your life when all you have to do is not recite it.

    Don’t be calling people sheep or implying all the evil of this and that and then demanding the Government (which is all a part of your complaining anyway) do something.

    It’s not enough that you can’t make your own decision, but that you’re intolerant of anything that doesn’t fit your agenda, is what makes this hypocritical.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.