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Congress takes further action to support pledge

WASHINGTON (BP)–Apparently not content with its resolution Wednesday condemning the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision ruling the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, the Senate has passed a bill affirming the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the pledge.

Senate Resolution 2690 passed by a vote of 99-0 July 27.

The House also took action, on House Resolution 459 introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). The resolution, which expresses the sense of the House “that Newdow v. U.S. Congress was erroneously decided,” passed by a vote of 416 to 3, with 11 members voting present and five not voting.

Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote that the phrase “under God” is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, and violates the so-called “establishment clause” of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), president pro tempore of the Senate, suggested that anyone who has a problem with the presence of religion in American life leave the country. He dared the two judges who voted to declare the pledge unconstitutional to try to have him arrested for saying it on the Senate floor and called the judges “stupid.” Byrd also warned that the judges would be “black-balled” if their names came before the Senate for promotion while he remains in office.

Sensenbrenner said the court “treated the word ‘God’ as a poison pill.”

“Rarely has any court — even the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit — shown such disdain for the will of the people, an Act of Congress, and our American traditions,” he said. “What’s next, a court ruling taking ‘In God We Trust’ off of money?”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee noted that current federal court rulings prohibit individuals who disagree with the content of the pledge from being forced to recite it.

“Under West Virginia Board of Education versus Barnette, individuals cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance,” he noted “We recognize the right of those who do not share the beliefs expressed in the pledge not to recite the pledge, but this ruling treats religious speech as inherently evil.”

Sensenbrenner said the ruling is “an attempt to remove religious speech from the public arena by those who disagree. In essence, it’s a heckler’s veto.”

“We in Congress will do whatever it takes to void this laughable ruling,” he added.

The Ninth Circuit has gained a reputation for being reversed by the Supreme Court. According to research by the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, Ninth Circuit decisions reviewed by the Supreme Court have been reversed 80 to 90 percent of the time since 1996.

One jurist on the court, Judge Stephen Reinhardt was reversed 11 times during the 1996-97 term and holds the record for having the most unanimous reversals of any federal judge in a single term, five. His more widely publicized decisions include permitting California “cannabis clubs” to continue operating and striking down Washington State’s ban on so-called assisted suicide.
Johnson is a congressional bureau chief for CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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  • Jeff Johnson