Bush Urges High Court To Overturn Pledge Decision

The Bush administration has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate a federal appeals court decision that found reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public school classrooms to be unconstitutional.

Attorneys with Attorney General John Ashcroft's Department of Justice filed the 30-page brief in April. In a press release, the department said, "As the Court has ruled again and again, our government and people can acknowledge the important role religion has played in America's foundation, history and character."

In late February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the Pledge, with its nod to "under God," to be an unconstitutional religious exercise when recited in the public schools. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the act placing "under God" in the Pledge, he boasted that from that day forward "school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty." 

Michael Newdow, a physician in California, challenged the Pledge in federal court after he learned that his daughter's public school teacher led the students in reciting it every morning.

The Supreme Court takes very few cases each year, and four of the high court's justices must agree before such a review is granted.

In the brief arguing for reversal in Newdow v. U.S., U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson said the 9th Circuit had "failed to come to grips with the Court's repeated recognition that the Establishment Clause permits such historic, ubiquitous, and ceremonial acknowledgments of our Nation's religious character and heritage."