Pledge of Allegiance faces another legal challenge - New York News

Pledge of Allegiance faces another legal challenge

Updated:

By: Matthew Brown, WorldNow

For the fourth time in the past decade, the Pledge of Allegiance will be before an appellate court on Wednesday, and the phrase "under God" is again at the heart of the challenge.

But the hearing before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has a different twist. Instead of a making a First Amendment religious violation claim, an anonymous atheist couple says the compulsory recitation of the pledge violates the state's equal protection laws, reports the Christian Post.

"It makes us appear as second class citizens just because we believe something different from the majority," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director for the American Humanist Association, which filed the lawsuit.

The same anti-discrimination theory was used to successfully argue for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, according to Religion News Service.

"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," RNS reported. "Their win led to similar successful challenges in other state courts - something that could happen here if judges rule for the plaintiffs."

RNS quoted Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is arguing for Knights of Columbus, school children and parents who want to say the pledge at school, saying a similar ruling could spell problems for those defending the pledge.

“You would then see a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country,” he said. “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.”

The Becket Fund's website summarizes a history of pledge cases beginning in 2000, in which courts have ruled reciting the pledge is constitutional under federal law. The Becket Fund has successfully argued that the pledge is statement of political philosophy not religious belief.

That same argument appeared to have won over Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty who ruled in June 2012 that the Pledge of Allegiance is not a religious practice, but “a voluntary patriotic exercise” that “teach(es) American history and civics.” Judge Haggerty also pointed out that the state allows students to choose not to recite the pledge.

“Members of the American Humanist Association have the right to remain silent if they want to, but they don't have the right to silence everyone else,” said Becket Fund attorney Diana Verm, following the ruling.

The state's Supreme Judicial Court is hearing AHA's appeal of Haggerty's ruling.

"If the federal government decides to write a discriminatory pledge, the Massachusetts Constitution nevertheless protects children in the Commonwealth from the discrimination that would occur from daily recitation of the pledge in classrooms," David Niose, attorney for the AHA, was quoted as saying in rifuture.org, a progressive political website in Rhode Island.

More Stories

Lawyers, judges debate 'under God' phrase in Pledge of Allegiance

Judge Says 'Under God' in Pledge Isn't a 'Religious Truth'

There are some God-fearing atheists in Finland

 


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Garner's family meets U.S. attorney

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:01:16 GMT
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
  • Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:26 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:26:39 GMT
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
  • Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:03:11 GMT
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices