The New(dow) World Order
Quoted below from Newdow v. Congress is the complaint by Michael A. Newdow, J.D., Ph.D., the lawyer-atheist who says he wants to drive every vestige of religion from American public life:
“Newdow does not allege that his daughter’s teacher or school district requires his daughter to participate in reciting the Pledge [of Allegiance]. Rather, he claims that his daughter is injured when she is compelled to watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a God and that ours is ‘one nation under God.’”
Amazingly, Dr. Newdow has gotten Senior Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin and Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit to rule that the phrase “One Nation, under God,” is unconstitutional.
But the opinion by Judges Goodwin and Reinhardt flies in the face of already settled law that allows Congress and state legislatures to open their sessions with prayers offered up by tax-paid chaplains, for the military to have tax-paid chaplains, for court oaths to contain “so help me God,” for our currency to proclaim “In God We Trust,” for courts to open with the prayer, “God save this honorable court” and for public, tax-paid displays of the Declaration of Independence.
In short, there are virtually innumerable public places, ceremonies and official events (even where attendance is mandatory) at which the idea of God is invoked and the U.S. Supreme Court has not found a violation of the First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of a state religion. Look for Judges Goodwin and Reinhardt to be overruled, either by the Ninth Circuit sitting en banc or by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the nutty Ninth (the only U.S. appeals court that is overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court 80-percent of the time) probably won’t overrule Goodwin and Reinhardt on substance. The Ninth Circuit will probably find some technicality. The rule is “no foul, no harm.” So, it is a huge stretch of the imagination to say that young Miss Newdow is harmed when she hears the Pledge recited. No harm, ergo: no legal standing. Case dismissed.
In dissent, Senior Circuit Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez (the President George Bush appointee), wrote, “…when all is said and done, the danger that ‘under God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance will tend to bring about a theocracy or suppress somebody’s beliefs is so minuscule as to be de minimis. The danger that phrase presents to our First Amendment freedoms is picayune at most.”
Meanwhile, it is rumored that when the Republican leaders heard what Goodwin and Reinhardt had done, they fell on their knees and cried, “Thank you, God!” Why? Because Newdow v. Congress (whether Newdow prevails or not) is the kind of goofy, Left-Coast judicial activism that will send conservative voters to the polls in droves this November.
But let’s assume Dr. Newdow prevails in his quest to erase theism from American public life. Then, by default, atheism would become our de facto state religion.
Newdow’s Atheism Police would have to change many things. For example, many of our cities are named for Saints. Under The New(dow) World Order, our two oldest settlements, St. Augustine and Santa Fe, would become just Augustine and Fe. San Francisco and San Diego would become Francisco and Diego, respectively.
In sports, forget about the New Orleans Saints, the Anaheim Angels and the San Diego Padres. Ironically, the New Jersey Devils and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would be okay. The Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards (and Harry Potter) would probably just be placed under surveillance.
Totally banned would be: The Declaration of Independence, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, God Bless America, and the Gettysburg Address. Plus, our coinage would have to be scrapped.
In The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens asserts that “The law is an ass.” If that is so, then Judges Goodwin and Reinhardt and Dr. Newdow are acting like … (you fill in the rest).
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist whose law schooling was interrupted by military service, is now back in law school and hopes to complete his Juris Doctor later this year.
©2002. William Hamilton