reacts to Supreme Court proceedings
students and professors share their views on whether under
God should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Experts in religion and politics at TCU agree: there needs
to be separation between church and state.
I think there does need to be a separation of church
and state, because it has been proven in several cases
throughout history that without separation of the church
and state the main-line religions begin to suppress the
minority religions, said Vicky Sprinkle, a graduate
The Supreme Court began hearing testimony Wednesday from
Michael Newdow, a 50-year-old atheist from California,
who first brought his case against his 9-year-old daughters
school and won.
In February 2003, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin of the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the recitation of the pledge
with the words under God in public schools
violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
I think this is another example of our societys
struggle to balance respect for religion in society and
the individuals right to choose, said Robert
Thompson, a doctoral student in pastoral theology and
Newdow told the Supreme Court yesterday the words under
God are unconstitutional and offensive to people
who dont believe there is a God.
The hearings Wednesday morning dealt primarily with Newdows
standing to sue.
There has been argument over Newdows right to bring
his case, suggesting the court may rule against him without
reaching the church-state issue. Newdow must prove he
has standing to sue which is proof of sufficient interest
to bring the suit. This is an issue because Newdow does
not have custody of his daughter.
Newdow says he has sufficient interest because he is an
atheist and his custodial ex-wife is a born-again Christian,
said Don Jackson, a political science professor.
The standing to sue issue is something the court
could use to tactically avoid the substantive issue,
He said it may be weeks before the court makes a decision
on the standing to sue issue. If the Supreme Court determines
he does not have sufficient interest, it would not have
to rule on the pledge issue, Jackson said.
Justice Antonin Scalia removed himself from the case after
being quoted by the media criticizing the 9th Circuit
decision. This left the nations highest court with
an even number of Justices, meaning the case could end
in a tie vote and no decision.
Most of us in the field of religion feel this is
a pretty clear case, said Daryl Schmidt, chairman
of the religion department. The government has no
business requiring anyone to recite a pledge to God anytime,
anywhere under any circumstances.
Thats why my ancestors came to this country,
to get away from governments controlling religious practice,