Supreme Court Upholds Pledge... for the moment.

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Supreme Court Case on Pledge Is Dismissed on Technicality (NYTimes).







I wouldn't celebrate this decision as a broad win for anybody. On one hand the Supreme Court effectively upheld the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Three justices (Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas) wrote that it doesn't violate the constitution- which is significant because O'Connor frequently acts a swing vote. But on the other hand, they dismissed the case on a technicality, ruling that Michael Newdow "does not have sufficient custody of the child to qualify as her legal representative." So this case does not represent a broad defeat for those feeling that "Under God" breaches the separation of church and state. My only question at this point is how soon the Supreme Court is likely to get another Pledge case.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,920member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ShawnJ

    Supreme Court Case on Pledge Is Dismissed on Technicality (NYTimes).







    I wouldn't celebrate this decision as a broad win for anybody. On one hand the Supreme Court effectively upheld the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Three justices (Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas) wrote that it doesn't violate the constitution- which is significant because O'Connor frequently acts a swing vote. But on the other hand, they dismissed the case on a technicality, ruling that Michael Newdow "does not have sufficient custody of the child to qualify as her legal representative." So this case does not represent a broad defeat for those feeling that "Under God" breaches the separation of church and state. My only question at this point is how soon the Supreme Court is likely to get another Pledge case.




    I assume you do not support the phrase, then? Just curious.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Actually, it was the one issue I had a problem with the whole time. The dad was using his kid as a political pawn. Shame on him. I'm glad that decision came down. Maybe now we can forthrightly address the real issue without cowering behind BS claims of emotional distress and whatnot...
  • Reply 3 of 47
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    It sounds like they basically dodged the issue. They could have taken the two issues separately and ruled on them both: 1. does the father have standing to bring the case, and 2. is "under God" constitutional. Three of them, in support of the constitutionality of the phrase, did come to a conclusion about it, why didn't the others deal with the issue? Pussies.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    Actually, it was the one issue I had a problem with the whole time. The dad was using his kid as a political pawn. Shame on him. I'm glad that decision came down. Maybe now we can forthrightly address the real issue without cowering behind BS claims of emotional distress and whatnot...



    The problem is that you can't bring a case just on theory. Someone has to have a complaint that they've been adversely affected. I don't think it's unreasonable for a dad to say it's wrong for the gov't to promote beliefs to his child that contradict his. It's just unfortunate that it was muddied up because of the custody issue between the mom and dad.



    I wonder what Nick thinks about this anti-dad decision.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    faust9faust9 Posts: 1,335member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    It sounds like they basically dodged the issue. They could have taken the two issues separately and ruled on them both: 1. does the father have standing to bring the case, and 2. is "under God" constitutional. Three of them, in support of the constitutionality of the phrase, did come to a conclusion about it, why didn't the others deal with the issue? Pussies.



    It's probably because the Supreme Court doesn't like to defer its decesion making processes to lower courts. In this instance, Scalia recused himself thus there was a 3-3 deadlock on the issue of the "in god we trust". When the SC is deadlocked, the original ruling stands, thus it was a face saving ruling to prevent a SC decision from being dictated by a lower court. Another thing, this is an election year. Historically, the SC has put off emotional decisions like this to non-presidential election years. Give it a year before another case begins to work through the system.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    Actually, it was the one issue I had a problem with the whole time. The dad was using his kid as a political pawn. Shame on him. I'm glad that decision came down. Maybe now we can forthrightly address the real issue without cowering behind BS claims of emotional distress and whatnot...



    I think Michael Newdow, the parent, is genuinely concerned about the kind of environment in which his kid grows up. In his daughter's case, he's concerned about whether "Under God" represents a daily breach of the separation of church and state. That's my point, anyway.



    Question: Who else could bring a case against the Pledge (besides parents)?



    Edit: Ah, good points, BRussell.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    The problem is that you can't bring a case just on theory. Someone has to have a complaint that they've been adversely affected. I don't think it's unreasonable for a dad to say it's wrong for the gov't to promote beliefs to his child that contradict his. It's just unfortunate that it was muddied up because of the custody issue between the mom and dad.



    I wouldn't have such a big problem if the guy said it caused him such emotional duress, but it was pretty clear to me early on that he was taking advantage of his daughter. He revealed early on that his real agenda was his alone, not his girl's. If you're a parent, don't you have as much right to complain about what your children are being taught? Why would it make his case any weaker from a legal point of view? I don't thin it would. I think he was going for bleeding hearts and petty press-whoring by dragging his daughter into it directly. I could be wrong that somehow he's excluded from making the argument for himself, but I don't see how.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    I agree with you BRussel, the court dodged the issue, and frankly, at their place I would have done the same.



    Why do I approve them ?



    1) this issue, is only a political one. It interfer very slowly with the life of US people.



    2) whatever decision they will take, they will piss off half of the population, who will want theirs scalps. Unworthy if you consider that this issue haven't really any practical results.



    When a court do not want to answer, they find a juridic bias, and they found one : kudos for them.



    The pledge is a political discussion, and not a case of court. If people want to change this things, they can do via the parliementary system. The answer of this particular point, belong to the people of US, trying to shortcut him, via court, is in opposition with the spirit of democracy.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Powerdoc

    The pledge is a political discussion, and not a case of court. If people want to change this things, they can do via the parliementary system. The answer of this particular point, belong to the people of US, trying to shortcut him, via court, is in opposition with the spirit of democracy.



    I don't think you're familiar with our system of government. It's the judicial branch's job to rule on the constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress, including the 1954 law adding "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. And if you consider the image of almost every U.S. Senator on the steps of the capital shouting that phrase, I'm certainly relieved we have that system of checks and balances. It's not a "shortcut" to go through at least three separate courts here-- it is democracy.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    I wouldn't have such a big problem if the guy said it caused him such emotional duress, but it was pretty clear to me early on that he was taking advantage of his daughter. He revealed early on that his real agenda was his alone, not his girl's. If you're a parent, don't you have as much right to complain about what your children are being taught? Why would it make his case any weaker from a legal point of view? I don't thin it would. I think he was going for bleeding hearts and petty press-whoring by dragging his daughter into it directly. I could be wrong that somehow he's excluded from making the argument for himself, but I don't see how.



    His argument was simply that he should have the right to influence his daughter's religious beliefs without the state contradicting him. I don't see anything at all unreasonable about that. To take a more extreme example, what if California required classes to say "praise Allah?" Do you think Christian parents should have the right to challenge that, or would they just be whiners?
  • Reply 11 of 47
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    SHawnJ, I think you stated the issue quite succinctly.



    how can anybody who values the Constitution, and the rights therein NOT see that this is a violation?



    It astounds me: 'Under God' . . . indeed . . . what about 'Under Gods' etc . . . 'under a thumb'?
  • Reply 12 of 47
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Powerdoc

    [BThe pledge is a political discussion, and not a case of court. If people want to change this things, they can do via the parliementary system. The answer of this particular point, belong to the people of US, trying to shortcut him, via court, is in opposition with the spirit of democracy. [/B]



    I agree with Shawn. The majority could inflict all kinds of abuses on the country if we had a pure democracy with no courts. And there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that they would. Laws must be consistent with the basic rights and limits laid out in our constitution.



    I don't think this is a serious life-threatening issue or anything. But I wonder, if it wasn't an atheist (a very small minority in the US) would people dismiss it so easily? For example, what if the gov't required school classes to say "there is no God." I sincerely doubt the majority would be so dismissive of it then. And that's what you have to do - you have to turn it around to look at the principle rather than just whose side we're on.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    The problem is that you can't bring a case just on theory. Someone has to have a complaint that they've been adversely affected. I don't think it's unreasonable for a dad to say it's wrong for the gov't to promote beliefs to his child that contradict his. It's just unfortunate that it was muddied up because of the custody issue between the mom and dad.



    I wonder what Nick thinks about this anti-dad decision.




    Nick has much less sympathy for mom's or dad's who attempt to create an attachment or commitment where there never had been one. My sympathies are for those who have made a commitment and had the results of it torn away or altered by a court.



    Additionally I'm not a fan of courts forcing a commitment where none was desired.



    This instance doesn't appear to be either one of those. I did some searching for Newdow and his custody case. At the time he filed this case, he had 0% custody. Now I could have sympathy if Newdow had custody and lost it because of powerful forces allied against him in this battle, but having 0% before he even files really makes me question his parenting motivations.



    Additionally Newdow himself appears to be quite a force himself. He is independently wealthy, holds two advanced, professional degrees, and is capable enough to argue in front of the Supreme Court. This puts him in a very powerful position to advocate for his parental rights. In fact, since the filing of the case Newdow has gained 30% custody.



    I would hope he has gained it in hopes of parenting, and not in hopes of political leverage. Kids should not be used in such a fashion by moms or dads.



    So my opinion is that Newdow should work to get to 50% custody, hopefully for the right reasons, and re-file his case.



    Nick
  • Reply 14 of 47
    existenceexistence Posts: 991member
    I wish someone would also bring a case to take "In God We Trust" off the money.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by pfflam

    SHawnJ, I think you stated the issue quite succinctly.



    how can anybody who values the Constitution, and the rights therein NOT see that this is a violation?



    It astounds me: 'Under God' . . . indeed . . . what about 'Under Gods' etc . . . 'under a thumb'?




    Maybe because those rights are "endowed by our creator" under the Declaration of Indepenedence.



    It is hard to see the violation when it involves using your own right hard to cut off your right arm.



    Nick
  • Reply 16 of 47
    ipodandimacipodandimac Posts: 3,273member
    The Pledge IS TECHNICALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL. June 14, 1954 That violates the first amendment. I'm really neutral on the subject--I never really say the pledge, so I dont care. And if I ever get to the point where its a big deal, I'll either say it or I wont. Nobody is forcing me either way.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    I believe the dad was acting in the interest of his child. I can tell you personally, it feels weird being in a room full of religious people and it comes out you're not. It's like being a Mac user in a room full of PC users but worse. In some ways worse than being black person in a room full of white people in the South. America is becoming a theocracy. Disturbing things to note about the Reagan administration (he believed in the Apocalypse! And this was during the Cold War!) "Reagan?s Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, said "I don?t know how many future generations we can count on until the Lord returns" (p.182), Reagan?s Secretary of Defence Casper Weinberger said "I have read the Book of Revelation and, yes, I believe the world is going to end - by an act of God, I hope - but every day I think that time is running out"



    That's great. A guy responsible for the environment is planning things according to the Rapture. This is why religious weirdos should not be in government and government should be SEPARATE from religion. Pat Robertson ran for President. Wow.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    I'm in the minority that thinks the "under God" reference should be removed from the pledge, court houses and money. I could never understand how it was justified in the first place.



    If that view doesn't make me unpopular enough: I don't even know why kids are forced (ok asked daily-but not forced) to say the pledge. Really, what do little kids understand about making such a pldege? My daughter, who just finished first grade, probably can't even define "nation." What sense does it make to pledge to something you really doen't understand. The whole act of the pledge just seems like a desperate act of indocturnation.



    I think a genuine love of the freedoms and opportunities of this country comes from learning history, civics and by understanding how things are diffferent in many parts of the world around us. This takes years of life and schooling, and some dumb little pledge is a very poor substitute.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    His argument was simply that he should have the right to influence his daughter's religious beliefs without the state contradicting him. I don't see anything at all unreasonable about that. To take a more extreme example, what if California required classes to say "praise Allah?" Do you think Christian parents should have the right to challenge that, or would they just be whiners?



    There are two issues I think that are getting confused -- the issue about "under God" and the issue with how this guy represented his daughter.



    The guy's whole shtick was that his daughter was -- what were his words? -- upset or traumatized by these words? I agree with what you're saying about acting on her behalf, but it's his alarmist tone that turned me off, and it's arguable whether it was this girl's real reaction or sentiment about the pledge. If he doesn't want her to say these words, then he should come out and say so. But he didn't to my recollection, he projects his views onto her instead of being forthright that these are his wishes for her. I have no problem with it except that he was being so disingenuous about his motives and his daughter's involvement in the issue. It was a ploy IMO. Of course, I'm too lazy to do the homework to back up my recollections, so take it as it may.



    For the record, I also think "Under God" should be removed, and I don't see the great foul in that simply because it wasn't in the pledge to begin with! That's why I want it gone, actually. It's a relic of a paranoid, zealous past as much as anything else to me. Also, it ruins the meter of the thing, just doesn't roll off your tongue the same way.



    I think "God" can be taken as a more general spiritual reference in a lot of cases. Still, to be more inclusive often means it's more practical not to include such references rather than leaving someone (or ultimate power) out.



    I can take or leave the pledge itself. I think in spirit, it's a nice gesture, and only the most cynical and paranoid see it as some mantra for brainwashing. Of course, that would require that the kids know what they're talking about. In itself, it doesn't mean much to young kids. The idea is to teach them its meaning as they grow up so it's not stated in a vaccuum. I think the issue about being "forced" to say the pledge is much ado about nothing in the end. Pretty innocuous really when you think about it in the big picture. Again, that's just me of course.



    PS: Here's just a neat link to the US Constitution online.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    The guy's whole shtick was that his daughter was -- what were his words? -- upset or traumatized by these words?



    I have a strong opinion about that statement of yours, but I'll reserve it until I read the oral argument transcript (PDF). Let me just say that I don't think that's the case at all. But let's all find out what that meddling Michael Newdow's beef was. The nerve of some people!



    More case related documents:

    FindLaw - U.S. Supreme Court - Pledge documents



    Edit: I read the transcript. He's a smart guy and used lots of words, but absolutely did not mention emotional distress or trauma in his oral arguments-- or anything else of that nature. Rather, he talked about the coercive effect of the Pledge on his daughter and how that relates to the phrase, "Under God" and the establishment of religion by the government. With all due respect, your characterization couldn't be further from the truth.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    I agree with what you're saying about acting on her behalf, but it's his alarmist tone that turned me off,



    Whether or not his tone was "alarmist" depends on how you perceive the merits of the case. Since your understanding of Newdow's position was so wrong, I do think it's consistent to conclude that. Hopefully you'll conclude something different about his tone with the more accurate understanding I tried to provide.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    and it's arguable whether it was this girl's real reaction or sentiment about the pledge. If he doesn't want her to say these words, then he should come out and say so



    He did.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    But he didn't to my recollection, he projects his views onto her instead of being forthright that these are his wishes for her.



    He was more than forthright-- he explicitly said that.









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