Michael Newdow has just become the Supreme Court's Rudy Ruettiger. For those of you who don't remember the story (or didn't see the movie starring Samwise Gamgee), Rudy's the kid who always dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame, then finally got his chance for one brief play to great applause but to no real consequence.

Likewise, the crowds are literally cheering for Newdow, whose success in challenging the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance is hitherto a major feat in itself, did a masterful job arguing his case at the court yesterday. Especially good, considering that he's an emergency room doctor who has argued few cases.

"Newdow showed he had mastered the case and his emotions, making a forceful presentation that could teach veterans some new argument tactics," law journalism biggie Tony Mauro wrote in Legal Times. In an article for the First Amendment Center, Mauro called it "a stellar performance … parrying justices' questions and sticking with his strategies with more skill than many veteran advocates."

"No one who managed to get a seat in the courtroom is likely ever to forget his spell-binding performance," wrote The New York Times' Linda Greenhouse. The Washington Post's Charles Lane gushed about how Newdow "would not be ambushed."

"Five stars," was the review from Slate's Dahlia Lithwick. "He may still lose this appeal, but he absolutely won the day."

All of a sudden, Weblog feels like this is Film Forum. We are talking about legal arguments at the Supreme Court, aren't we? Maybe, but that didn't stop the chamber from erupting in applause—" a sound rarely, if ever, heard at oral argument in Rehnquist's tightly run courtroom," notes the Post—when Newdow countered a point by the chief justice.

Even Newdow's ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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