CIVIL LIBERTIES

In 1957, Congress added “under God” after “one nation” to the Pledge of Allegiance. A lawsuit was filed in California arguing that rules requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with its affirmative reference to God violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The case of Elk Grove Unified School District v Newdow (2004) went to the Supreme Court. While the Court chose to not decide the issue by arguing that Newdow did not have standing, the establishment clause was widely discussed in oral arguments. The oral argument for this case can be found on the Oyez website for online streaming or to download the MP3 file at http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2003/2003_02_1624 (Links to an external site.). Listen to the relevant selections of the argument. The school district’s attorney argues this issue at 17:16 to 26:17, and Newdow, representing himself, argues the issue from 30:17 to 44:0. What are the facts of this case? Explain the establishment clause of the First Amendment? What did the courts decide and why? Do you agree or disagree with the Court? Do you agree or disagree that the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited as “One nation under God”?

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