High court listens to 'pledge' arguments

The Newdow case
A ruling is not likely until June, but a church-state case widely discussed in the public has finally been aired in the U.S. Supreme Court. A California atheist and lawyers supporting the public school district where his daughter says “under God” each school day appeared before the high court to field questions by the justices on whether that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional.

Physician Michael Newdow argued on March 24 that every time his daughter—directed by a tax-funded teacher—stands and recites the pledge, the government is making her “say that her father is wrong.”

Solicitor General Theodore Olson, arguing against Newdow and for the Bush administration, said justices of the court have stated more than a dozen times that there is a difference between religious exercise such as a prayer and solemn ceremonies such as the pledge. “Fourteen justices . . . have indicated that the Pledge of Allegiance is not a religious exercise,” he said.


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