Pledge back in court
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department on Friday filed an appeal of a controversial ruling that declared the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because it violates the guarantee of separation of church and state.
The appeal requests an "en banc" rehearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, meaning that an 11-judge panel is asked to consider the case as opposed to the three judge panel that issued a 2-1 ruling.
Michael Newdow of Sacramento, California, had challenged the 'under God" clause of the pledge, saying it was a government endorsement of religion when recited in school by his daughter and her classmates.
In his ruling, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote that the "under God" phrase in the pledge was added by Congress during the height of the Cold War to differentiate the United States from the atheistic aims of the Soviet Union.
He ruled the phrase violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment because it "prohibits the government's endorsement or advancement not only of one particular religion at the expense of others but also of religion at the expense of atheism."
Goodwin later stayed his own opinion.
The ruling gripped the nation even though it applied only to the states under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Hawaii.
The government also is arguing that Newdow lacks proper standing because he cannot claim to be an injured party. And his daughter's mother has intervened to advise the court that she has sole legal custody of the girl and that the girl wishes to recite the pledge in school.
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