Why do people use schools for court cases?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2004

When a California appeals court ruled that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, the uproar that followed came swift and hard.

Congress, in rare bi-partisan work, voted overwhelmingly to condemn the decision.

The White House, the branch of the government that appoints the judges, denounced the decision.

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Talk of an amendment to the Constitution surfaced to keep the phrase intact.

The U.S. Supreme Court braced itself because when a lower court makes such a ruling, our nation's highest court prepares for it.

As Chief Justice Warren Burger once said, "You see the battle rise up on the horizon and we sit here in our loft marble building and simply wait for the battle to come to us."

The battle did go to the Supreme Court this time, and on Monday, that body ruled, on procedural grounds, to dismiss a plea by an atheist, to stop his daughter’s school from having the pledge recited daily in the classroom.

By the time the case got to the Supreme Court, it had been narrowed substantially. No longer was the issue the Pledge itself, but only whether a school district’s policy of requiring teachers to lead its recitation violates the separation of church and state.

Maintaining that separation, while protecting the right of individuals to freedom of religious belief, is crucial to democracy in a diverse nation of some 2,000 religious faiths, denominations and creeds.

It truly amazes us that these battles over faith are always fought inside a school.

Why do people choose to disrupt the learning environment of a school in order to push their own religious ideals.

How much learning do you think children at that California school accomplished when the media swarmed in?

Not much, because let's face it, those children were more interested in the cameras than what their teachers were saying.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a weak and needless entry into the religious-freedom argument. The phrase &uot;under God&uot; was added only in 1954 in response to lobbying by religious organizations seeking to make a Cold War statement against &uot;godless communism.&uot; It has largely been un-controversial, in part because of a 1943 court ruling that no one can be required to recite it.

Maybe what we should do is applaud the Supreme Court this time for its ruling and let schools do what they are designed to do, teach!

Not be the vehicle for reform.

Maybe we should spend less time harping on such miniscule things and get on with our lives, our liberties and yes, thank God, our own pursuit of happiness.

Class dismissed!