Unfurl Those Flags: Newdow’s Back!

Ken AshfordConstitution, Courts/LawLeave a Comment

Michael Newdow is back in the news.  You may remember him as the guy who challenged the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, arguing that it compelled his daughter to invoke a religious incantation ("under God").  Even though he won in the lower courts, he ultimately lost in the Supreme Court, but only on the issue of standing (since he didn’t have full custody of his daughter, he couldn’t represent her interests in court).

At the time, many (myself included) commented that the Pledge issue was merely put off to another day.

Well, that "another day" is approaching.  Newdow filed a new lawsuit, not on behalf of himself and his daughter, but on behalf of three other parents and their children.

And he won again:

A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday in a case brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge’s reference to one nation "under God" violates school children’s right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing because he did not have custody of his elementary school daughter he sued on behalf of.

Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.

So now this case is going to climb the appellate courts until it reaches the Supreme Court.  And this time, they’re going to have to deal with it.