Newdow strikes back
Michael Newdow, who lost his previous case on the Pledge of Allegiance when the Supreme Court ruled that as a non-custodial parent he lacked standing to challenge particular issues related to his daughter's education, is back in court. In the new case, filed in a Federal district court in Sacramento, he joins with eight co-plaintiffs, all of whom should have standing based on my limited knowledge of standing rules. The Court's previous establishment clause jurisprudence has held that it is unconstitutional for the government to take actions which coerce people into expressing religious views via social pressure. This should lead to the policy at issue in this case, which requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, being held unconstitutional.
However, the government has argued that the phrase "under God" is not religious, but rather is just part of a secular ceremony. Also, there are concerns that a ruling for Newdow in this case would create a slippery slope leading to separate issues, such as the appearance of "In God We Trust" on money being held to be violations of the establishment clause. Further, as the Times article says:
[In the original decision] Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote separately that the pledge as recited by schoolchildren did not violate the Constitution. Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas agreed.
A fourth justice, Antonin Scalia, removed himself from the case after making off-the-bench remarks that seemed to telegraph his view that the pledge is constitutional.
..."this case starts with a 0-4 handicap from the Supreme Court's point of view."