WASHINGTON (BP)–Members of the U.S. Congress reacted with shock and anger at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals June 26 ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance violates the constitutional separation of church and state because it includes the words “under God.”
The Senate approved 99-0 a resolution “expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance” and asking Senate counsel to “seek to intervene in the case.”
Hours after the ruling was announced, about 150 members of the House of Representatives gathered on the steps outside the Capitol and recited the Pledge of Allegiance to demonstrate support for the pillar of American history.
“When the president says ‘God Bless America,’ should he be banned?” said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas). “I stand with the tradition that allows the president to put his hand on the Bible and uphold the constitution. It is sad that at a time when our country is coming together this court is driving a wedge between us with their absurd ruling. As countless American leaders of all political stripes have said before me, ‘God Bless America.'”
In response to the June 26 ruling, DeLay displayed “God Bless America” at the top of his website, www.majoritywhip.gov, and encouraged other members of Congress to do the same.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) also stood against the ruling, saying, “This silly and stupid ruling will not stand. Either it will be overturned by a higher and more sober court or the American people through their Congress will take whatever steps are necessary to set things straight.”
“Just as the Supreme Court has recognized that elected officials may invoke God’s blessing on their work as we do here in the Senate every day, our children should be allowed to invoke God’s blessing on our country. All Americans of every religion need that blessing now more than we have at any point in our lifetimes,” Lott said. “This absurd ruling highlights the urgency for the Senate to act on President Bush’s nominees for current judicial vacancies. I urge Senate Democrats to stop stalling and let us vote on the men and women who will restore common sense to the federal judiciary.”
Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) voiced his objection to the court’s decision.
“America is one nation under God,” Sen. Edwards said. “This ruling is wrong.”
Sen. Edwards joins other senators in reciting the pledge each morning after the Senate convenes, and he joins in prayer led by the Senate chaplain. He is also a leader of the Senate Prayer Breakfast, a group of current and former senators who meet each Wednesday morning.
Sen. Edwards predicted that the ruling would be reversed if the case reaches the Supreme Court, where the marshal declares at the opening of each session, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”
Another Democrat, Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, spoke out in support of the pledge.
“This ruling is disgraceful, especially coming a week before this nation celebrates July 4. I bet Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and our other founding fathers are spinning in their graves today,” Sen. Miller said. “I expect this decision to be overturned by a higher court, and if it isn’t, I believe Congress should take immediate action.”