NYT reports SCOTUS is adding the infamous 9th Circuit decision to their docket:
The Supreme Court added the Pledge of Allegiance to the docket for its new term on Tuesday, agreeing to consider whether public schools violate the Constitution by requiring teachers to lead their classes in pledging allegiance to the flag of “one Nation under God.”
The justices, who begin their daily session with heads bowed as the marshal intones “God save the United States and this honorable court,” accepted a case that like the affirmative-action and gay-rights cases of the last term places the court at the center of a heated public controversy.
The case is an appeal by a California school district of a decision that has been the subject of an intense national debate since the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, issued it 16 months ago.
The Federal District Court in Sacramento initially dismissed a lawsuit brought by an atheist, Michael A. Newdow, who said he did not want his daughter exposed daily in her elementary school classroom to “a ritual proclaiming that there is a God.” The Ninth Circuit overturned that decision, first ruling in June 2002 that the words “under God,” added by federal statute in 1954, made the pledge itself unconstitutional.
In an amended opinion issued earlier this year, the court narrowed its ruling by confining it to the public school context, invalidating school policies that require teachers to lead willing students in the pledge. Ever since a Supreme Court decision on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1943, public schools may not compel students to recite the pledge. The Supreme Court indicated today that it would address only the recitation of the pledge in public schools, not its constitutionality as a general matter.
The Supreme Court’s action today had several unusual elements that could have an impact on the eventual outcome. One was the decision by Justice Antonin Scalia not to participate in the case, an evident if unacknowledged response to a “suggestion for recusal of Justice Scalia” that Mr. Newdow sent to the court last month.
Quite interesting, especially the Scalia recusal. Surely, he’s no more predisposed on such a case than, say, Thurgood Marshall was on dozens of civil rights case he voted on?
And, while I resent the imposition of religious nonsense into state functions, this one strikes me as sufficiently innocuous–of the nature of getting a day off for Christmas–as to be a mere part of our social culture and not religious per se.