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ACLJ, 17 congressmen ask appeals court to re-hear Pledge of Allegiance case

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–The Jay Sekulow-led American Center for Law and Justice announced Aug. 13 it has filed a brief asking for a re-hearing of June’s controversial ruling against the Pledge of Allegiance.

The ACLJ filed its brief with the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of itself and 17 members of Congress asking the court to re-hear a three-judge panel’s ruling that the pledge’s “One nation under God” phrase is unconstitutional.

“The decision that the phrase ‘One nation under God’ is unconstitutional is not only flawed in a legal sense, but ignores Supreme Court precedent protecting this kind of language,” said Sekulow, chief counsel with the ACLJ, based in Virginia Beach, Va. “It is critical that a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit re-hear this case and correct the faulty conclusions reached by the three-judge panel.

“Not only is there tremendous public support for reversing this damaging decision, but there is ample legal precedent to do so as well. At the end of the day, we’re confident the Pledge of Allegiance that includes the phrase ‘One nation under God’ will be upheld as constitutional,” Sekulow said.

The brief, which is posted on the ACLJ website at www.aclj.org, contends that the phrase “One nation under God” does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and simply echoes the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence and recognizes the undeniable truth that America’s freedoms come from God. The brief also cites numerous U.S. Supreme Court cases in defense of its position.

Members of Congress represented in the ACLJ brief, all in the House of Representatives and all Republicans, are J.C. Watts and Ernest Istook, both of Oklahoma, Chip Pickering of Mississippi, Jim R. Ryun of Kansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Robert B. Aderholt and Bob Riley, both of Alabama, Todd Akin of Missouri, Chris Cannon of Utah, Michael Collins of Georgia, Jo Ann S. Davis and Virgil H. Goode Jr., both of Virginia, John Doolittle and Duncan Hunter, both of California, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Donald Manzullo of Illinois and Dave Weldon of Florida.

In addition to filing the brief, the ACLJ is also working to ensure that the Ninth Circuit decision concerning the pledge does not cause school administrators outside the circuit’s jurisdiction to question the appropriateness of permitting students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their school districts. The ACLJ is sending letters to state school superintendents on behalf of nearly 160,000 people who want to make sure that students will continue to have the opportunity to voluntarily recite the pledge with the phrase “One nation under God.”

“We want to make sure that other school districts around the nation don’t get nervous and overreact to the Ninth Circuit decision,” Sekulow said. “We must send a powerful message to school officials throughout the country that this one decision — which is being appealed — does not affect schools in the rest of the country.”

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