|Enforcement of Pledge Ruling Stayed|
One day after issuing a ruling declaring recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, a federal judge, has issued a stay preventing the controversial ruling from being enforced.
On Wednesday, the three-judge appeals court panel in San Francisco ruled 2-1 that inclusion of the words "under God" rendered the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional under the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment.
Today, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alfred Goodwin, who had participated in the court's majority opinion striking the Pledge, issued a stay that will prevent enforcement of the ruling, pending the outcome of anticipated future appeals.
Should it be upheld on appeal, the ruling will prohibit school children in the nine Western states under the court's jurisdiction from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as serving as a basis for similar actions in other states.
The U.S. Department of Justice has requested that the ruling be reviewed first by the full nine-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision of the nine-judge panel could be appealed only to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Included at the request of President Eisenhower and enacted by Congress, the words "under God" have been part of the Pledge of Allegiance since 1954. "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war," Eisenhower told Congress at the time.
The original lawsuit seeking prohibition of the pledge was brought by Dr. Michael Newdow, of Sacramento, California, whose daughter attends public school in Elk Grove, California. Newdow, who represented himself in court, said he brought the suit "because I am an atheist and this offends me."
In another major case involving the separation of church and state, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a landmark 5-4 decision finding private school tuition voucher programs to be constitutional, even when the tax-supported funds are used to pay tuition to religious schools. [See: High Court Upholds School Vouchers]