Law & Courts News in Brief

McCain Cites ‘Pledge’ Court Case As Example of ‘Judicial Activism’

By Mark Walsh — May 13, 2008 1 min read

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, last week outlined his views on judicial appointments and cited a well-known case over school-led recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance as an example of what he called the abuses of “judicial activism.”

Sen. McCain, speaking May 6 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., referred to a 2002 ruling by a 2-1 panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, that a California school district’s policy of leading the pledge was an unconstitutional government establishment of religion because of the words “under God” in the oath.

He didn’t mention that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 2004 decision in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, set aside the 9th Circuit court ruling on procedural grounds. Michael A. Newdow, the California lawyer and physician who challenged the pledge in schools, is opposing the practice in a new case, which is pending before a new panel of 9th Circuit court judges.

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