March 19, 2004

One Nation Under God? Pledge of Allegiance Case

The Forum’s Pledge of Allegiance Issue Backgrounder, written by legal scholars and published in March 2004, details the history of the Pledge and offers analysis of the legal questions raised in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow. The document addresses both the issue of Mr. Newdow’s standing (his legal right to sue) and the First Amendment questions involved in the case.

Though the backgrounder was written several months before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on June 14, 2004, it anticipated possible outcomes in the case and the implications of those outcomes. As the writers of the backgrounder suggest, the Court did resolve the case “on narrower rather than broader grounds.”

The issue of Mr. Newdow’s legal standing, which was ultimately central to the Supreme Court’s opinion in this case, is discussed in depth on pages 5-6.

The backgrounder addresses constitutional questions on pages 3-5. Though the case was not ultimately decided on the basis of these First Amendment issues, they are likely to re-emerge if subsequent suits challenging the Pledge are brought.