Monday, June 14, 2004

The Supremes Punt Those worthless jackoffs on the Supreme Court punted on the Pledge of Allegiance question. They ruled that Michael Newdow, the plaintiff in the case, had no standing to bring the suit on behalf of his daughter. From the New York Times article on the story:


The Supreme Court ruled today that the phrase “one nation, under God” can stay in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag recited by millions of schoolchildren each day, at least for the time being.

But the justices — deciding the case, coincidentally, on Flag Day — did not reach a finding on the fundamental question of whether the pledge violates the constitutional demarcation line between church and state. That question could come before the court again, given the somewhat narrow parameters of today's ruling.

The court held today that the plaintiff, Michael Newdow, did not have standing to bring a suit challenging the pledge as presently worded. Eight justices agreed that Dr. Newdow, a nonpracticing lawyer who is also a physician, cannot qualify as a legal representative of his 10-year-old daughter, on whose behalf he filed suit.


The various opinions are available here.

The decision to reverse the Ninth Circuit's ruling in favor of Newdow was 8-0. However, only five justices (Stevens, Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg and Kennedy) agreed with the standing ruling. In separate opinions, Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor and Thomas dissented. They felt that Newdow did have standing, but that his claim did not have merit.

Curiously, Thomas was the only justice who showed any balls at all. In his opinion he states bluntly that not only does Newdow have standing, but that if the Court were to rule in a manner consistent with previous Establishment Clause cases, they would have to find the Pledge unconstitutional:


Adherence to Lee would require us to strike down the Pledge policy, which, in most respects, poses more serious difficulties than the prayer at issue in Lee. A prayer at graduation is a one-time event, the graduating students are almost (if not already) adults, and their parents are usually present. By contrast, very young students, removed from the protection of their parents, are exposed to the Pledge each and every day.


The reference here is to the 1992 case Lee v Weisman, in which the Court ruled it was unconstitutional to begin a graduation ceremony with a prayer.

Thomas goes on to argue that Lee, like most of the Court's recent Establishment Clause cases, have been decided incorrectly. I'll leave his argument in that regard for another day.