A federal appellate panel heard arguments this month in a case challenging a New Hampshire law that requires schools to reserve time each day for students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance. As with a pending California case, the lawsuit takes issue with the words “under God.”
A federal district court upheld the New Hampshire statute in February, ruling that the law has the permissible secular effect of “teaching our country’s history to the elementary and secondary pupils of this state,” and that it does not have the effect of coercing children to support or participate in religion.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed and enlisted longtime pledge challenger Michael A. Newdow to argue its case. A separate appellate panel ruled against Dr. Newdow, a lawyer and physician, last spring when he challenged school-led recitations of the pledge as unconstitutional establishment of religion. Dr. Newdow previously led a challenge to the pledge at his daughter’s school, a case the U.S. Supreme Court disposed of on procedural grounds.
A version of this article appeared in the September 22, 2010 edition of Education Week as Pledge of Allegiance Debate Heard by Federal Court