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Newdow gains allies, challenges pledge again

WASHINGTON (BP)–Michael Newdow has renewed his effort to remove the name of God from the Pledge of Allegiance, and this time he has a few more legal allies.

Newdow, whose challenge to the words “under God” in the pledge was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, filed a federal lawsuit Jan. 4 in Sacramento, Calif., asking a court to rule as unconstitutional a 1954 law inserting the phrase about deity into the pledge, the Sacramento Bee reported. Eight others -– parents of students in northern California public schools or students themselves –- joined Newdow in the suit, according to the Bee.

The co-plaintiffs provide Newdow’s case with something the high court said last year he did not have -– legal standing. The justices reversed a federal appeals court decision without deciding whether “under God” is constitutional. Instead, a majority of the court ruled that Newdow, as a father without primary custody of his elementary-age daughter, did not have standing to represent her in the suit.

The parents who are co-plaintiffs with Newdow have custody of their children. They and the students joining in his latest challenge are either atheists, agnostics or pantheists, according to the Bee. Newdow is an atheist.

Newdow’s new suit asks the court to rule that the federal law adding “under God” to the pledge is unconstitutional and the phrase must be deleted, the newspaper reported. In its final decision in February 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did not strike down the congressional action but, instead, struck down the Elk Grove, Calif., school district’s policy requiring teachers to lead “willing students” in the pledge daily.

Newdow’s daughter is not a party in the case and does not oppose the pledge, the Bee reported. His daughter and her mother, Sandra Banning, are members of an evangelical Christian church in Elk Grove.

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