Judicial Decision: Deleting God, Diminishing Freedom

This is shocking but true, legislating from the bench! A California federal judge on September 15 ruled that the "school district's policy and practice of teacher-lead recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Establishment Clause and is thus, unconstitutional. Clearly, this is evidence of re-writing the Constitution. Further, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton said he was ready to issue an injunction to three California school districts to halt the daily reciting of the pledge. Judge Karlton was appointed to the Ninth Circuit court in 1979 by President Carter.

Terming the case "a cause celebre in the ongoing struggles as to the role of religion in the civil life of this nation," the District judge ruled that the pledge's reference to "one nation under God" violates children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." The argument is that when a public school teacher leads the students in reciting the Pledge, which includes the words "under God," the government is endorsing (establishing) a religion. And, to the objection that students may choose not to participate--which they have a right to do-- anti-pledgers say, "Students are virtually coerced by peer pressure to participate. That they will feel offended or uncomfortable if they don't." As we see it, the Establishment clause was never intended to guarantee our right not to be offended or made to feel uncomfortable.

But even more significantly, the Establishment Clause was not intended to be used as a preventative against the free exercise of religion. The Court thus deprives students, who want to recite the Pledge, of their free exercise rights. What has happened here is that the religion clause has been turned up side down to achieve a result entirely apposite from that intended by the early Framers of the Constitution. Pont in fact, on September 25, 1789, three days after Congress authorized the appointment of paid chaplains, final agreement was reached on the language of the Bill of Rights. Clearly the men who wrote the First Amendment Religion Clauses did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that Amendment, for the practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress.

"This is just another example of an irresponsible decision by a liberal activist judge unable to separate personal policies from public service," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. "As we work to fill two vacancies in the highest court of the land, today's news only serves to underscore the importance of appointing judicial nominees who refuse to allow their personal views to shape decisions."

Concerned Women for America (CWA) condemns the ongoing activism that makes citing the Pledge in public school unconstitutional. And Kevin Martin, a member of Project 21, the Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans, stated: "This is yet another in a series of attacks on the religious traditions on which our nation was founded. For far too long, the liberals have used our courts as a way to create rules they cannot achieve popularly through an elected, representative legislature." Liberals can't win in the voting booth on eminent domain issues, late term abortion, gay marriage or bans on the Pledge of Allegiance. That's why they need the courts to keep inventing rights for example, taking over private property for private development, wholesale abortion, extending gay marriage and bans on the Pledge of Allegiance. In short, if anything is unconstitutional, it is this display of arrogant judicial activism.

The U. S. Supreme Court dismissed the Ninth Circuit's ruling last year for reasons unrelated to the core constitutional issues\. Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote: "On the merits, I conclude that the ...School districts policy that requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge, which included the words,' under God' does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. ...The phase 'under God' seems, as a historical matter, to sum up the attitude of the nation's leaders, and to manifest itself in many of our public observances and abound in such observances within our nation's history." And thus, by the Karlton decision, even the right to recite the Pledge on ceremonial grounds has been stripped from our freedoms.

As we it, it is nearly impossible to think of a better example, at a more appropriate time as this, that so clearly demonstrates why America needs judges as constitutionalists and not judges acting as law writing legislators and re-writers of the Constitution. Clearly, if Americans needs another example of what the battle over judicial nominations is all about, this decision frames a persuasive picture. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.