Michael A. Newdow isn't going away now that the U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed on technical grounds his challenge to the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Although barred from bringing his claim again in a federal jurisdiction, the outspoken Sacramento atheist told CT immediately after the June 14 ruling that he will file suit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in state court.
Perhaps more significantly, Newdow says he is willing to act as the attorney for 20 other people, half of them Californians. They are prepared to mount a coordinated effort in federal court over the legality of the oath being recited in public schools.
Newdow believes this ruling only delays an inevitable tilt in his favor. "I'm not the only one," Newdow said. "There are a whole bunch of litigants looking to file in the federal courts. They all believe in the Constitution."
For now, as students prepare to return to classes, the Pledge is legal everywhere. Sacramento attorney Terence J. Cassidy, who represented the school district, spent much of his oral arguments noting that mother Sandra Benning had legal custody and the right to decide whether the child recited the oath.
Cassidy told CT, "The Court is looking at what is in the best interest of the student, not the parents."
Yet numerous Christian groups criticized the Court for avoiding the constitutional issue.
"It's a shame the Court couldn't unify around the same principle that has been unifying the rest of us since the Declaration of Independence: Our rights are secure because they come from a higher authority than the state," said Kevin J. Hasson, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington. "Sooner or later, the Court will have ...1
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