September 15, 2005

Oh My God

Oh boy, nothing I hate worse than this Pledge of Allegiance business. First a court declares pledge recital in schools unconstitutional, then the public bares its teeth and growls at "liberals" and Democrats everywhere for somehow being responsible for this craziness (despite the fact that a majority of Dems like the pledge just the way it is), and all of the sudden Bush's ability to hurl an ultraconservative judge onto the Supreme Court gets a whole lot easier. From a practical standpoint, it just sucks, and let's face it, no one is harmed by the "under God" portion of the Pledge. Or rather, insofar as people feel alienated from the dominant Judeo-Christian culture in this country, which certainly does happen, it's not the fault of two meaningless words that other eight-year-olds are mumbling by rote, half-asleep, in school every morning.

Moreover, I'm not even sure I like the latest ruling on the merits: District Judge Lawrence Karlton argued that children have a right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." Um, what? Children, as everyone knows, are not at all required to say the pledge at school—they can sit in their seat and look glum if they damn well please. The idea that practices are "coercive" merely if they involve other people mumbling things by rote, half-asleep, seems like a dangerous precedent to set. Slippery slope and all that. I'm serious. Isn't there some other way to argue Newdow's case? In typical San Francisco liberal fashion, I think reciting a pledge is all very silly and deserves a good sneer, but I wouldn't want to call it "coercive," or worse, argue that listening to other people stay stuff amounts to a "coercive requirement to affirm" what they're saying. Plus, everything said in the first paragraph.

MORE: Volokh on some of the technical issues involved: Judge Karlton seems to be basing his decision on a reversed Ninth Circuit Court opinion that may not have any precedential value anyway, on account of being reversed, sort of. Or something.
-- Brad Plumer 12:26 AM || ||