For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 18, 2004

Wasden Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Affirm Constitutionality of Pledge of Allegiance

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden today joined with the attorneys general of every state in a brief urging the United States Supreme Court to hold that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is constitutional. The amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief, filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, was submitted in the case of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael Newdow.

"This is a powerful statement from the Attorneys General of all 50 states to the nation's highest court. The Attorneys General represent the legal interests and positions of their states in courts of law," Attorney General Wasden said. "My objective is to defend Idaho's legal interests, codified in Idaho Code section 33-1602, relating to the voluntary recitation of the pledge of allegiance in our public schools."

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit held that including the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"The Ninth Circuit's decision is in conflict with a decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and previous opinions of the Supreme Court," Attorney General Wasden said. "The Attorneys General have reminded the Court that virtually every reference to the Pledge of Allegiance, by the Supreme Court and by at least 12 individual justices over the decades, has agreed that the Pledge is entirely consistent with the First Amendment."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for example, expressed her view in the 1985 case of Wallace v. Jaffree that the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance "serve[s] as an acknowledgment of religion with 'the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, [and] expressing confidence in the future."

In June, Wasden and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson authored an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. The attorneys general of 47 states joined in that brief.

The Supreme Court accepted the case for review on October 14. The Court has not yet set a date for oral argument. The Court's decision will impact the laws of 44 states, including Idaho.

In its last term, the Supreme Court granted review in 34 Ninth Circuit cases. Of those, only 5 were affirmed. In the current term, the Court has already issued opinions in 3 Ninth Circuit cases, reversing each one, two unanimously.

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