‘One Nation Under God’: 5 Key Pledge Of Allegiance Court Cases

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The inclusion of the phrase “one nation under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is considered by some people to violate the constitutional decree of separating church and state.

Court cases have been brought to court since the 1950s, challenging the inclusion of “one nation under God.” Here are a few of those cases:

1. One of the first cases to set the stage for future legal action regarding the Pledge of Allegiance occurred in 1943, which was before the words “one nation under God” were even added to the pledge. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the court ruled that public schoolchildren could not be compelled to salute the flag, according to the Oyez Project. Future court cases would uphold the idea that saying the pledge or saluting the flag is a voluntary act.

2. Elkgrove Unified School District v. Newdow — 2002-2009 Michael Newdow’s daughter attended a California school, and in 2000, he challenged the district for requiring her to say “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Newdow, an atheist, took the case to federal district court arguing that his daughter shouldn’t have to listen to the pledge, reported the Oyez Project.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals first found in Newdow’s favor in 2002, causing an uproar throughout the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision

3. Newdow refiled, along with other parents, and in 2005, a federal court found in Newdow’s favor, pushing the case back to the appeals court, CBS said. In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the words “under God” in the pledge and “In God We Trust” on currency do not violate separation of church and state.

4. In 2012, a Massachusetts court found that including the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance did not violate the school’s antidiscrimination policy or state law. An atheist family had sued, saying that even though its children had the right to not participate in the pledge, the “under God” phrase was a “religious truth” that was against their beliefs, the Boston Globe reported. … But Judge S. Jane Haggerty ruled that the words “under God” are not a religious truth. … The state’s Supreme Judicial Court supported that ruling in May 2014, the Boston Globe said.

5. A New Jersey case was filed in early 2014 by a family and the American Humanist Association trying to remove the words “under God” from the pledge said in a public school district, The Associated Press reported.

The AP said the lawsuit alleges that even if the children don’t have to participate, the phrase “marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots.” The case has yet to be decided.

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