Michael Newdow, who gained national attention for his near successful efforts to have the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance only to be thwarted by the Supreme Court on technical grounds, has suffered another court loss. This time a California state court dismissed Newdow’s defamation action against Reverend Austin Miles.Newdow’s defamation lawsuit was based on an article Reverend Miles wrote, opining that Newdow had lied to the court by claiming his daughter was forced to recite the words “under God,” contained within the Pledge of Allegiance, at school. Reverend Miles noted that Newdow’s daughter was actually a Christian who willingly said the Pledge.
In June 2004, Newdow had convinced the initial judge hearing this case to enter a default judgment in the amount of $1 million against Reverend Miles – who didn’t even know he had been sued. After learning of the massive judgment, Reverend Miles contacted the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Law Center persuaded the Court to set aside the default judgment and allow the case to proceed to trial. Attorney Mark A. Thiel, of Stockton, California, assisted the Law Center as local counsel.
Law Center attorney Brandon Bolling ultimately tried the case. After a lengthy trial, Judge Barbara Zuniga entered judgment in favor of Reverend Miles on November 20, 2008. Judge Zuniga declared that Newdow was not defamed, nor entitled to any damages, and dismissed the defamation claim against Reverend Miles with prejudice.
Bolling, commented, “We are pleased with the court’s decision. It was very clear from the start that Newdow’s claims against Reverend Miles had no merit.”