The Supreme Court has decided to hear a case concerning the constitutionality of the phrase "one nation under God" in the pledge of allegiance.
Atheist lawyer Michael A. Newdow is arguing the phrase violates the first amendment that prohibits government establishment of religion. According to The Washington Post a the 9th Circuit federal court in San Francisco has already ruled the phrase to be unconstitutional because it turns the pledge into a "state-sponsored religious ritual."
The case will be argued in front of only eight Justices because Justice Antonin Scalia has excused himself from ruling on the case. Although he has not formally announced his reasons, the most probable explanation is because Newdow asked Scalia to remove himself because of comments Scalia had made earlier this year. According to The Washington Post Scalia criticized the decision of the federal court, saying it was a mistake to "exclude God from the public forums and from political life." The Washington Post article also said that under the code of conduct for United States judges, judges are not allowed to express "public comment on the merits of a pending or impending action."
If the Supreme Court decision should end in a tie, the federal court ruling would be upheld. According to The Washington Post in previous rulings the Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional to require students to recite the pledge.
Under current Blair policy students are not required to say the pledge; however, they are required to stand. According to assistant principal Richard Wilson, students who don't wish to participate may "exercise the right to step outside the room." Students who feel this is infringing on their rights as well, may talk to Principal Philip Gainous.
The case has created controversy among students. Some like senior Lilah Shreeve, feel the "under god" should be removed from the pledge. She feels this phrase discriminates atheists and polytheists and "excludes a percentage of the population."
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