9.17.2005

It's Never Been All Or Nothing, Alberto: Children Can Still Pledge to the Flag - Without 'God'

U.S. Attorney General to Fight Ruling on Pledge of Allegiance

from Religion News Service

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has promised the Justice Department's vigorous opposition to district court judge's ruling that a reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

Gonzales said the pledge remains one of many expressions of national and patriotic identity that reference God and said he will fight the Sept. 14 ruling by Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif.

"The Supreme Court has affirmed time and again that such official acknowledgments of our nation's religious heritage, foundation, and character are constitutional," Gonzales said in the statement.

He said his office "will continue vigorously to defend the ability of American schoolchildren to pledge allegiance to the flag."

Arguing he was bound by a 2002 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, Karlton ruled that "the pledge is an unconstitutional violation of the children's right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

The Bush administration actively opposed Newdow in his last appearance before the high court, filing friend-of-court briefs and appointing former Solicitor General Theodore Olson to argue against him.

Gonzales' support for the constitutionality of the pledge comes at a critical time for the attorney general, whose close ties to Bush make him a leading contender to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. The statement will likely appeal to conservatives who have been wary of Gonzales' reluctance to take a stand on the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973.

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