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Elk Grove Unified School District Versus Newdow

2130 words - 9 pages

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow:
The Supreme Court case in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow result in a unanimous ruling that the phrase “under God” may remain in the Pledge of Allegiance as narrated in public school classrooms. The court made the decision because the atheist father did not have grounds to sue the school district on behalf of his daughter. While the ruling was made on the Flag Day, it did not meet the clear endorsement of the constitutionality of the pledge as sought by President Bush and leaders of Republican and Democratic Parties in Congress. Notably, the eight judges who participated in the case had voted to turn over a federal appeals court decision in 2003 that would have prohibited the use of the phrase in public schools as an infringement of the constitutional outlaw on state-sponsored religion. A majority of these justices i.e. five made that ruling on procedural grounds in which Michael A. Newdow, the atheist, did not have legal reasons to sue the school district (Lane, 2004).
Facts of the Case:
The daughter of an atheist, Michael A. Newdow, attended public school in the Elk Grove Unified School District in California, where teachers started school days by leading students in a voluntary narration of the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge included the phrase “under God”, which was added to it in 1994 through a Congressional act. The atheist sued the school district in federal district court in the state on the basis that making students listen to the phrase even if they were not willing to participate was an infringement on the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He had argued that his right to influence the religious views of his daughter was violated by the daily recitations of the pledge that teachers in her Sacramento-area public school led on a daily basis.
The Pledge of Allegiance was established in June 22, 1942 while the phrase “under God” was added to it following a 1954 congressional amendment. The Elk Grove Unified School Board in California made it compulsory for all students in elementary school to narrate this pledge at the commencement of each school day. In the lawsuit, Newdow stated that his daughter was being indoctrinated in breach of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Since the atheist father had never lived with his daughter, he filed the suit on her behalf as “next friend” in a California federal trial court.
The Elk Grove Unified School District rejected Newdow’s claims and arguments for lack of standing since he and the mother of his daughter were divorced. Furthermore, Newdow’s claims were refuted by the school district because he did not have custody of his daughter. According to the ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Newdow’s lack of standing was reversed. This court argued that he had grounds to challenge a practice he considered to violate his rights to guide his daughter’s...

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