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Supreme Court refuses to rehear pledge case

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court denied Aug. 23 a request to reconsider its decision in a challenge of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

The high court rejected atheist Michael Newdow’s call to reopen the case. In a June opinion, the justices ruled Newdow did not have legal standing to represent his daughter. On that technical basis, the justices overruled a lower court decision that a California school district’s policy requiring recitation of the pledge violated the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.

In overruling the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court said Newdow’s failure to have final parental authority in his elementary-age daughter’s life meant he could not represent her in the lawsuit. In his July request for the high court to rehear the case, Newdow said the custody status of his daughter should not prevent him from pursuing a challenge, according to the Associated Press.

All eight justices involved in the case agreed in the final judgment, but three said in a concurring opinion the phrase “under God” is constitutional and the court need not rely on a technicality to decide the case. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia did not participate in the pledge case, having recused himself without explanation. Scalia, considered the court’s most conservative member, had publicly criticized the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, however, before it arrived at the Supreme Court.

The case is Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.

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