The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a motion to intervene with the Federal District Court in New Hampshire today in its continuing efforts to protect the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Representing the Knights of Columbus and three New Hampshire families, The Becket Fund asked for permission to intervene and for the court to dismiss a case brought by Michael Newdow, a Sacramento physician-attorney who finds the words offensive.
"The Constitution doesn't ban the word God from public discourse, in California or New Hampshire, in the Pledge or anywhere else," said Kevin "Seamus" Hasson, founder and president of the Becket Fund. "Every time we pledge allegiance to one nation under God, we are reminding the government that it must respect everyone's rights – even Michael Newdow's – because those rights are not given to us by the government, but by a source higher than the government."
Dr. Newdow, who has a similar case pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, claims that the words "under God" violate the Establishment Clause of First Amendment of the Constitution. He won at the lower court, but the Becket Fund, representing the Knights of Columbus and eleven California school children, has appealed and is awaiting a decision.
In 2004, Dr. Newdow sued to have all prayers, invocations and religious language removed from the U.S. Presidential inauguration ceremony. That suit was quickly dismissed. In addition to New Hampshire and California, Dr. Newdow is also in the midst of a legal challenge to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.
Dr. Newdow's latest complaint describes the voluntary recitation of the Pledge as "child neglect (if not child abuse)."
"Dr. Newdow's theory that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes child abuse is his most outlandish yet. If the courts adopted his reasoning, teachers would be in danger of going to jail. The court should reject this and the rest of his unfounded theories about the Pledge," said Hasson
The Supreme Court has repeatedly used the Pledge as the standard for what is a permissible reference to God in a patriotic exercise.
To arrange an interview with a Becket Fund legal expert, contact Tom Carter , firstname.lastname@example.org at 202-349-7205 or 202-538-2044