Michael Newdow Denied Cert on Religion in Schools Case

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The First Circuit Court of Appeals case that challenged religion in schools and the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance didn't make it very far in the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 13, the Supreme Court denied review on the case against religion in schools, made by atheist activist Michael Newdow, who argued that the requirement that New Hampshire public schools set aside a daily period for voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Newdow brought his case on behalf of two self-described atheist and agnostic New Hampshire parents and three children, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is not Newdow's first case against the use of the word "God" in the public arena. Not at all, in fact, as Newdow and his comrades have been circling the country since 2002 making his case against public religion, arguing against the "factual" teaching of biblical events and the use of the words "so help me God" in President Barack Obama's inauguration.

As expected, some would argue that Newdow's cases are ridiculous. Unlike others who garner media attention for their repeated challenges to the law, Newdow's no crackpot. For those that judge by these standards, Michael Newdow highly educated, a doctor and a lawyer -- and from good schools.

And frankly, Newdow raises a good question: Do the words "one nation under God" qualify as a patriotic exercise or are they an endorsement of religion?

Under the Establishment Clause, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Of course, through the Fourteenth Amendment, this law also applies to the states.

While the First Circuit applied a three-pronged test, the important factor was whether or not the New Hampshire Act, which was essentially the law that provided for the "Pledge of Allegiance" times in schools, had a religious purpose.

In a unanimous ruling, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the recitation of the pledge was not at all "the advancement of religion" but rather, "the advancement of patriotism."

While Newdow took his case to SCOTUS, it was inevitably rejected. Check out FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog, as we'll be furhter discussing Newdow's petition for certiorari and his Supreme Court bid.

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