For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: June 14, 2004
Pledge of Allegiance Remains Unchanged
(Boise) - The United States Supreme Court today ensured that children in Idaho may continue to voluntarily begin each school day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.
The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow.
The decision leaves intact Idaho Code § 33-1602, which states: "Every public school shall offer the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem in grades one through twelve at the beginning of each school day." Idaho's statute also provides that: "No pupil shall be compelled, against the pupil's objections or those of the pupil's parent or guardian, to recite the pledge of allegiance or to sing the national anthem."
Similar statutes in 43 other states were also at risk in this case.
"Although the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit decision on the issue of standing, the effect of the reversal is that children retain the right to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools," Wasden said. "The Supreme Court has commented favorably on the Pledge in past cases, and prior to the Ninth Circuit's decision, all other federal courts had upheld the Pledge. Today's decision removes the uncertainty created by the Ninth Circuit's decision in the Newdow case."
Wasden and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson spearheaded the successful effort, joined by all of the state attorneys general, encouraging the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Today's decision was the seventh unanimous reversal of a Ninth Circuit decision during the Supreme Court's current term. During the term, the Supreme Court has reversed and vacated 15 Ninth Circuit decisions while affirming only three.
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