Protect the Constitution, not the Pledge

One nation indivisible

Fundies seem to think that everything needs protection (marriage, the flag, etc.) except the rights of people who aren’t like them. Their latest whine is about how much the Pledge of Allegiance needs safeguarding from the Liberal Homosexual Hollywood Ninth-Circuit Media French Agenda.

Some website calling itself RightMarch.com has a hyperventilating editorial called “Protect the Pledge of Allegiance! Demand Congress Pass the Pledge Protection Act!” It says:

ALERT: Patriotic hard-working Americans like you and I are fed up with the efforts by activist judges and extremist groups to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. As you are probably aware, self-avowed atheist Dr. Michael Newdow continues his crusade against the Pledge in the federal courts.

Don’t you love the way they underline key phrases to make sure you don’t miss them? Apparently they think you have the reading comprehension of a second-grader, so they have to highlight all of the key points. ALERT: We’re fed up with activist judges, extremist groups, and especially those evil atheists! All we want to do is protect the Pledge of Allegiance ! ! ! ! ! ! !

(By the way, it should say “you and me”, not “you and I”. Literacy is not a requirement to be a fundie.)

Arguing that it’s “unconstitutional” to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, Newdow actually won his case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002.

Notice that they put “unconstitutional” in scare quotes, as if the concept is so far-fetched that only a court as divorced from reality as the Ninth Circuit could rule that way. In actuality, the Ninth Circuit is often the only court that still understands and upholds the Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court eventually dismissed the case, but only due to a “technicality” — since Newdow didn’t actually have custody of his daughter, the Court ruled that he lacked standing to bring suit in the case.

Wow, no underlines! They did put “technicality” in scare quotes to remind you that it’s only by the grace of Almighty God that we dodged this bullet the first time around.

Newdow vowed to sue again — and true to his word, in January 2005, he filed another suit…

Oh no! Not another suit! What an evil, evil man!

…this time with eight other families having custody of their children. It’s clear that until Congress acts decisively, the right of children to voice their allegiance to our Republic “under God” will be jeopardized by fringe groups and activist judges.

It’s our worst nightmare! Our eternal foes, the Activist Judges, have now teamed up with Fringe Groups!

Actually, I seriously doubt that many kids are worried about their “right” to pledge allegiance to God. Most kids only have the vaguest notion of what the Pledge is even about. And even if they did want to swear a loyalty oath to God, nobody is preventing them from doing so on their own time.

This Pledge will protect your furniture.

In response, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has once again introduced the “Pledge Protection Act” (H.R. 699), which removes the issue of the Pledge’s constitutionality from the jurisdiction of federal courts.

First of all, notice that it’s a Republican congressman from the Bible Belt who wants to foist this bad legislation on the rest of us. Secondly, this seems like an unconstitutional power grab by the Legislative branch. They know that their precious religious ritual is a violation of the First Amendment, so they’re trying to prevent the courts from ever hearing the matter. How can a law like this be constitutional? I’m guessing that it isn’t, but their plan is to add this as an additional barrier. It will take so long for this law to be challenged and thrown out that they’ll have time to dream up some other crazy idea to “protect” the Pledge from judicial oversight.

The Pledge Protection Act contains the same language that passed on the floor of the House in August 2006 by a vote of 260-167.

Which tells us that 61% of Congress doesn’t understand or respect the Constitution.

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that schools should be allowed to use the Pledge…

Civil rights aren’t a popularity contest. If they were, we wouldn’t need a Bill of Rights in the first place. The purpose of the Constitution is to protect the minority from the majority.

…regardless of whatever mistaken rulings the wacky left-wing Ninth Circuit (or other federal courts) might be tempted to issue.

The people writing this screed have contempt not only for the “wacky left-wing” Ninth Circuit, but for the entire federal court system! Why don’t they just come right out and admit that they’d like to do away with the whole system? Just let Congress pass whatever laws they want without any oversight.

Like judges, every Member of Congress takes an oath to defend the Constitution upon taking office. By definition, that oath includes a commitment to act when the courts exceed their constitutional mandate.

But that oath doesn’t extend to passing unconstitutional laws! And how is a court determining whether something violates the Establishment Clause exceeding its authority?

In other words, Members of Congress must STAND UP and use constitutional means to rein in judges who try to legislate from the federal bench.

Wait. Do they want Congress to use constitutional means, or do they want them to pass this bill?

15 Responses to “Protect the Constitution, not the Pledge”

  1. ParrotLover77 Says:

    This is such a silly fight. The original pledge didn’t have “under god” in it. It’s shocking how many people don’t know THAT! I’m all for the pledge being protected in its original form, that is, without “under god.”

  2. Jim Says:

    “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all.”
    —Francis Bellamy, 1892

    Works for me.

  3. jr. Says:

    as a Christian in a rather stereotypically fundamentalist denomination (Southern Baptist), I must say I am ALL FOR taking ‘under God’ out of the pledge for a couple of reasons. First, someone who doesn’t believe in God or who is unsure about the whole ‘religion’ thing shouldn’t have to swear allegiance to an abstracted notion of deity to be able to consider him/herself a ‘real’ American. Furthermore, however, having ‘under God’ in the Pledge demeans God by expressing God’s identity in an acontextual, non-religious setting. The God of the Christian faith is not an American; far from it in fact. By putting God in the pledge, we are cheapening the concept of God in that we reduce God to little more than a tribal deity for the people that lives between Canada and Mexico, and that is a travesty.

    So… sorry for the rant, but let me hop on your bandwagon… let’s get it out ASAP.

  4. Ron Britton Says:

    Well said, Jr.! This is why merging church and state is as bad for the church as it is for the state.

  5. Jason Failes Says:

    So, if the whole point of the pledge is to unite the people of the United States indivisibly, why throw in God, traditionally the world’s worst divider?

    Irony anybody?

  6. legalities Says:

    According to the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2, it states, “the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress may by Law have directed.”

    So Congress, by majority vote and with the signature of the President, can make any exception it wants to regarding what the courts have jurisdiction over. If they want to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from the judiciary’s jurisdiction, they can. If they wanted to remove abortion from the court’s jurisdiction, they could – it’s perfectly Constitutional, under A3S2.

    Just a note.

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    That’s bad. Why would they put that in there? It defeats the whole purpose!

  8. Jr. Says:

    Other jr., you are my hero.

  9. Bob Says:

    @legalities
    Would that not go against the principle of judicial review that states that that the Supreme Court has the final say in what laws or practices are Constitutional or not? Taking away this power could be seen as a power grab on behalf of the other branches, as this deals with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, making a precedent where the legislature could slowly take away judicial review. This would open the door for the legislative branch to trample all over the Constitution, as was a fear of Hamilton in Federalist 78. I just do not believe that the legislative branch would allow for this to happen.

  10. Brian Says:

    This may seem somewhat extreme, but I for one do not even feel the need to recite the Pledge to affirm my devotion to this country. Its a bit like those silly flag lapel pins that everyone started wearing after 9/11. As far as I’m concerned, its an empty, meaningless gesture. Do people who slap a yellow ribbon magnet on their Hummer really support the troops? Does a grade schooler really understand the meaning behind the pledge they’ve been made to memorize?

    Naturally saying something like this sends the super-patriots over the edge, often provoking the tired phrase “USA, love it or leave it”. These people seem to believe that America can never do any wrong, and God is always on our side. Well, I love my children, and because I want them to grow up to be the best people they can be, I can’t turn a blind eye whenever they do something wrong. I also want this country to be the best it can be, and that means doing more than reciting words I learned in grade school. It means looking at our country as it really was and is, and learning from that. This involves contact with reality, something that is impossible for people blinded by superficial patriotism or supernatural nonsense.

  11. Ron Britton Says:

    Brian:

    I agree with you completely, but it is not extreme. I actually don’t like the idea of the Pledge at all. Forcing people to swear a loyalty oath is the sort of thing they do in fascist countries.

    Not only should “under God” be eliminated, but all of the other words should be eliminated as well. That isn’t going to happen. The blind patriots are going to make sure that the Pledge stays around forever. That’s also the reason that “under God” will remain in there forever. It tends to be the non-thinkers, the blind patriots, the “God is on our side” types, the John Wayne “my country right or wrong” types who think that the Pledge has some sort of meaning. To them, God = Country. You can’t touch one without touching the other.

    America: Love it blindly or leave it.

    Forcing schoolchildren to recite the Pledge does not make them patriotic. But since they are forced to say it, “under God” has to be removed. In its current state, it is not only an oath of fealty, but a prayer as well. Heil Amerika.

    Part of the original salute

  12. Bob Says:

    I just went to RightMarch.com and used their service to send a letter to my representative, except I edited their letter to ask my congressman to oppose the Bill.

  13. Ron Britton Says:

    Bob:

    I used to do that sort of thing myself, but I got to wondering if the congressmen just tally how many emails come in from one source and assume they’re all alike. I don’t know if it really counts as a contrary vote.

  14. julie Says:

    First of all, we are not pledging to God or vowing to him our loyalty when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Its to our country. I think it is down right rude and irrogant for you to sit there and mock people who are only speaking what they feel is right. Not only are you mocking your fellow citizens but the congress and our government. If you are so unhappy with our country why dont you speak to our founding forefathers who established the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance. Or for the sakes of peoples faith and hope just move to another country and hopefully your happier there!

  15. Ron Britton Says:

    Julie:

    Thank you for your most literate and intelligent comment. Let’s look at what you said:

    First of all, we are not pledging to God…

    Yes we are. We are pledging to both the nation and to God. That’s what “one nation under God” means.

    …or vowing to him our loyalty…

    Yes we are. That’s what the Pledge is. A loyalty oath. That’s what “I pledge allegiance” means.

    Its [sic] to our country.

    No. It’s to our country.

    it's = it is

    (Bob the Angry Flower. Click here for larger view.)

    I think it is down right [sic] rude…

    No, I can’t get down with that. Maybe it’s downright rude?

    …and irrogant… [sic]

    I’m having trouble understanding you. The closest word is “irrigant”. Is that what you mean?

    Irrigant

    Hey, everybody, I’m an irrigant!

    …for you to sit there and mock people who are only speaking what they feel is right.

    Guess what, Julie? We live in a democracy. People are allowed to state their opinions, and other people are allowed to disagree. If you don’t like that, why don’t you move to another country?

    Not only are you mocking your fellow citizens but the congress and our government.

    Oh, horrors! I’m a terrible, terrible person! I’m exercising the rights guaranteed to me by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and mocking our government!

    If you are so unhappy with our country why dont [sic] you speak to our founding forefathers who established the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Why don’t you speak to a history book and learn that our founding fathers had nothing to do with the Pledge of Allegiance?

    Or for the sakes of peoples [sic] faith and hope just move to another country and hopefully your [sic] happier there!

    If you’re so upset with the rights granted by the Constitution, I think it is you who should move to another country.