Monday, June 14, 2004

Ducking the issue or an elegant solution?
The Supreme Court today reversed the lower court decision that banned the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools as an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The Court did not issue the reversal on the merits of the case (though three justices Rehnquist, Thomas, and O'Connor filed a dissent arguing that the pledge is not unconstitutional). Rather, the Court reversed the decision because Newdow (who argued the case on behalf of his daughter) does not have custody of his daughter and therefore cannot speak on her behalf. In legalese, he has no standing to contest the use of the pledge in his daughter's classroom.

It looks to me like the Court is dodging the issue. The majority of the Court has put off actually having to decide whether the pledge is unconstitutional. Seems a bit cowardly to me. The practical consequence of this is that the other cases making their way through the lower courts may eventually make it to the Supreme Court and the issue will be decided then. Or the ACLU or the Americans United for Separation of Church and State will find a test case somewhere else and push it through the courts.

Now we're going to have to tolerate this discussion for a couple of more years. If the Supreme Court had actually made a decision we could move on to more important discussions like resurrecting the Federal flag-burning constitutional amendment...

For the legal junkies out there, check out the SCOTUS Blog (Supreme Court of the United States) for more analysis.



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