Federal appeals court says Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional

| 6/27/2002

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday found the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. The judges said it was illegal to ask U.S. schoolchildren to pledge their loyalty to one nation "under God."

In 1954, an Act of Congress added "under God" to the oath. Today's ruling, saying the words violated the separation of church and state, overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed a case against the pledge brought by the father of a school child. Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento atheist, objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the pledge in the Elk Grove school district.

The 9th Circuit covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. Those are the only states directly affected by the ruling.