Claim: An appeals court ruled that teacher-led recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Outlaws Pledge of Allegiance
On Wednesday, June 26, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
This is probably the most dangerous ruling of any Federal Court in American history because it is a declaration that America is no longer “one nation under God”. This court is saying that America does not need or want God. This ruling must be reversed immediately!
This reversal can be achieved in only two ways: (1) The U.S. Supreme Court has the power to overturn this decision and should immediately call a special session for this purpose; (2) A Constitutional Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress, and also passed by
Please sign the petition below and help us gather 1,000,000 American names which will be forwarded immediately to the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, all
Please have all of your “e-mail friends” follow your example in putting their names on the petition below.
Origins: On 26 June 2002, a three-member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled that recitation of the current version of the Pledge of Allegiance (which has since 1954 included the words “under God”) in public
schools is unconstitutional because it “violates the religion clauses of the Constitution” (i.e., the First Amendment protection that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”).
The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Sacramento by
The appeals court, by a
The decision was put on hold pending a review by the full court, and the general expectation was that the ruling would be reconsidered at that time. However, on
A few points of clarification about this issue:
- The decision applies only to the nine Western states under the Ninth Circuit court’s jurisdiction: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
- The ruling does not make the Pledge of Allegiance “unconstitutional” or “illegal” per se; it holds that the current version of the Pledge of Allegiance (which includes the words “under God”) may not be recited in public schools as part of a teacher-led or school-sanctioned activity. Technically, schools could still lead recitations of the original version of the pledge (before the 1954 insertion of the words “under God”), and students could still choose to recite either version on their own.
The decision could conceivably be overturned through any one of several procedures:
- The defendants could appeal to have the Supreme Court hear their case.
- Congress could propose, and state legislatures could ratify, a constitutional amendment explicitly establishing the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Update: In June 2004 the Supreme Court reversed the lower-court decision, ruling that Newdow did not have the legal standing to bring the case.
Last updated: 5 January 2008
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.