Tuesday, November 16, 2010

'Under God' OK in NH School: Court Ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of public school children reciting "under God" in Pledge of Allegiance, rebuffing a prominent atheist group's attempt to stop the practice.

For background, read Fed Judge Permits 'Under God' in Schools

-- From "Court OKs NH law allowing 'God' pledge in schools" by Denise Lavoie, Legal Affairs Writer, Associated Press 11/15/10

The constitutionality of a New Hampshire law that requires schools to authorize a time each day for students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance has been upheld by a federal appeals court that found the oath's reference to God doesn't violate students' rights.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Friday affirmed a ruling by a federal judge who found that students can use the phrase "under God" when reciting the pledge.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wis., educational group working for the separation of church and state; two group members, identified as Jan and Pat Doe; and their three children, who attend public schools in the Hanover school district in New Hampshire and the Dresden district in New Hampshire and Vermont.

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From "'Under God' vindicated in attack on Pledge" by Drew Zahn © 2010 WorldNetDaily 11/15/10

In its unanimous decision . . . the court's three-judge panel ruled, "That the phrase 'under God' has some religious content … is not determinative of the New Hampshire Act's constitutionality. This is in part because the Constitution does not 'require complete separation of church and state.'

"It takes more than the presence of words with religious content to have the effect of advancing religion," the court continued. "The New Hampshire School Patriot Act's primary effect is not the advancement of religion, but the advancement of patriotism through a pledge to the flag as a symbol of the nation."

For this high-profile case, the Wisconsin-based FFRF enlisted well-known atheist activist Michael Newdow to argue its case.

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