U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says atheist father was right to sue over "under God"
After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals famously declared the Pledge of Allegiance an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, the country reacted with outrage. But few seemed more upset than Sandra Banning, the ex-partner of the atheist who brought the suit, and mother of the child in whose name he sued. "I just stood there with my mouth open and thought, 'Oh my gosh, the President of the United States thinks my child's an atheist," Sandra Banning said back in July. "We are not atheists, and I need to communicate to the American people that my daughter's not being harmed by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance."
Banning has sole custody of their daughter, and asked the court to either dismiss the case or take her daughter out of it. "I do not wish for my daughter, for the rest of her life, to be known as 'the atheist child who hated the Pledge,'" she told the court. "It is therefore imperative that the court allow the (case) to go forward, if at all, without my daughter as a party."
Michael Newdow, the atheist who brought the case on behalf of his daughter, opposed the motion. "I'm still a parent, and still have a right to keep the government from indoctrinating my child," he said.
In September, a California Superior Court ruled that Newdow couldn't include his daughter in the suit, but said the 9th Circuit should decide whether it could continue anyway.
Yesterday, the same three-judge panel that voted 2-to-1 against the Pledge ruled unanimously. "California state courts have recognized that noncustodial parents maintain the right to expose and educate their children to their individual religious views, even if those religious ...1
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