.- The United States House of Representatives voted on Wednesday in support of a bill that would protect the phrase, “under God,” which rests in the middle of the country’s Pledge of Allegiance. The phrase has been threatened by U.S. courts in recent years.
The 260-167 vote was given support mostly by House Republicans, who, along with Senate Republicans, are pushing through several pieces of legislation this week, as part of their “American values agenda.”
According to the Associated Press, the bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Todd Akin(R-Mo) would deny jurisdiction to federal courts, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to decide questions pertaining to the interpretation or constitutionality of the Pledge. A state court, however, could still decide whether the pledge is valid within the state.
The legislation grew out of a 2002 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
The Supreme Court in 2004 reversed that decision on a technicality, saying that Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow did not have legal standing to sue on behalf of his daughter because the mother had custody over the child. Newdow has since revived the case and last year a U.S. District Judge ruled in his favor.
Sen. Jon Kyl, (R-Ariz,) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate, but it is unclear if the Senate would take up the bill this year, the AP said.
Lanier Swann, Director of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America, said that her group applauds the bill’s passage. “Americans want to preserve our national pledge, which represents our devotion and loyalty to our country. Hand upon heart, little children across the country should be able to continue reciting this pledge without the fear of it being stripped away by activist judges.”
In support of the pledge last year, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight, Carl A. Anderson, said that "if freedom of religion in America means anything at all, it means that it's just as constitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance -- complete with the words "under God" -- as it is to read aloud the Declaration of Independence. They both express the same truth: that our fundamental rights come from God, our creator, and not from government. To suggest that the language of the First Amendment prohibits the simple statement of that truth is to stand the constitution on its head."