The Supreme Court and the Pledge

Michael Newdow argued his case before the big 8 today--apparently Scalia will recuse himself when he figures a case is in the bag--and if the reporting is accurate, the Supremes will do pretty much what I expected them to do when I heard the points they were going to examine.

Based on questioning from the justices, it appears that Newdow’s primary problem will be to convince them that he has legal standing in the case.

I'm certainly no legal expert, but I saw this one coming a mile away. There are certainly some on the Court--Scalia most notably--who have no problem with allowing a melding of church and state as exists in the pledge. But for those who might actually look at the merits of Newdow's argument and find an honest yet politically untenable or distasteful decision in the works, the question of standing is their out.

Despite the spin placed on this case by those people who are trying to cast this as a struggle for the immortal soul of the country, the Court isn't actually deciding whether or not having the words "under God" is constitutional or not. They're supposed to be looking at "1. Whether respondent has standing to challenge as unconstitutional a public school district policy that requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. 2. Whether a public school district policy that requires teachers to lead willing students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the words "under God," violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as applicable through the Fourteenth Amendment."

Looking at the case that strictly would certainly give the Court plenty of room to rule against Newdow without stating directly that leaving "under God" in the pledge is okay. My prediction? Newdow goes down 8-0 on the standing issue in a decision written by one of the more liberal members and a separate concurrence by Thomas or Rehnquist or maybe even O'Connor argues for the validity of the inclusion of "under God." Just a guess.

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