Julian Sanchez has some fine posts on the Ninth Circuit Pledge of Allegiance decision the other day. He writes:
In short, getting rid of the Pledge isn’t an act of pettiness perpetrated by atheist bigots. It is the absolutely necessary removal of a subtle but potent kind of religious indoctrination — and a state-supported means of ostracising children with unorthodox beliefs — from our school systems. Hallelujah.
As I wrote in Julian’s comments section, “under God” irrefutably has a religious connotation. Because almost everyone in America believes in God and raises their children to believe in God, it doesn’t receive much attention, but that doesn’t change the facts of the situation. If the pledge said “under God, father of Christ,” or “under Yahweh, protector of his chosen people, the Jews” or “under Vishnu,” people might understand that a little better.
The one part I’m not sure about is whether it’s actually coercive. Any student who doesn’t want to say the pledge is under no obligation to do so. So what we’re left with is this argument that any student who doesn’t say the pledge will feel ostracized by fellow students, teachers and school officials. I’m not sure if that’s a strong enough link to qualify as coercive state establishment of religion.
I think the Pledge is unseemly, collectivist, slavish, and stupid. But not everything that pisses libertarians off is unconstitutional.
He’s the lawyer of the bunch, so take that for what it’s worth.