Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2005]
PETITION FOR PRES. BUSH
PETITION TO REINSTATE PLEDGE TO THE FLAG IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all these names. If you do not want to sign it, please forward it to everyone you know. Thank you!!!
To add your name, click on "forward". You will be able to add your name at the bottom of the list and then forward it to your friends.
THE 2,000TH PERSON SEND IT ON TO THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESS: President@WhiteHouse.gov
Origins: Stating whether a given petition is "real" or "valid" is usually problematic, because such a determination depends upon which aspect of the petition one focuses upon. The petition cited above might be considered "real" in that it is being circulated by real people who have a genuine concern about a particular political issue, or it might be considered "invalid" because it has all the attendant problems of petitions circulated by
The more important issues might be what problem the petition seeks to address and what solution it proposes, and on both those counts this petition is rather fuzzy. It states that its objective is to "reinstate Pledge to the Flag in public schools," but the Pledge of Allegiance hasn't really been removed from public schools, nor does the petition outline the means by which by the Pledge should be "restored" if it were indeed in need of restoration. Most likely the issue is confused due to some outdated or erroneous understandings of recent court rulings in this
In 2002, Sacramento attorney Michael Newdow, acting on behalf of his daughter, initiated a legal challenge to the constitutionality of public school-sanctioned recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, maintaining that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" (added to the pledge in 1954) violated the first amendment's prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit initially decided in his favor, but in 2004 the Supreme Court ruled that as a non-custodial parent,
Since the Supreme Court did not issue a ruling on the underlying constitutional issue, however, they left open the possibility that someone else (with proper legal standing) could bring a similar suit, and in 2005 two families (represented by Michael Newdow) did so. In
So, for now the only area in which the Pledge of Allegiance is in need of being "restored" is a handful of public schools in the Sacramento area. Moreover, whether the most recent ruling regarding the Pledge is overturned or expanded is a matter to be decided by federal courts or by Congress and the state legislatures (should someone propose a constitutional amendment to settle the issue). Sending a petition to the President is one way to try to ensure the chief executive is aware of public opinion, but he has little power to resolve the issue being addressed (save indirectly by appointing federal judges or influencing Congressional votes).
Those who wish to ensure the continued recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools would probably be better served by expressing their concerns directly to their state legislators and Congressional representatives.
Last updated: 9 January 2006
Pierson, David and Henry Weinstein. "'Under God' Retained As Stay Is Sought." Los Angeles Times. 4 March 2003 (p. B5). Pritchard, Justin. "Appeals Court Won't Reconsider Its Pledge Ruling." Associated Press. 28 February 2003. St. John, Kelly. "Pledge Again Ruled Unconstitutional." San Francisco Chronicle. 15 September 2005. CNN.com. "Appeals Court Stays Enforcement of Its Pledge Ruling." Associated Press. 4 March 2003.