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Removing God From the Pledge

Dissent by Judge Ferdinand Fernandez, however, is vital and demands reading

By Fernando Oaxaca
Published on LatinoLA: June 27, 2002


Removing God From the Pledge


The disturbingly liberal U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rendered an outrageous 2-1 decision which declares that our Pledge Of Allegiance to our flag and our nation...is unconstitutional! The words in the Pledge have been undisturbed since 1954. The Judges agreeing with the atheist plaintiff are Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, a doddering 79 years of age and Jimmy Carter's gift to California, 71 year old Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

The plaintiff is a Sacramento, California avowed atheist named Michael Newdow who represented himself before the court against the defendants, the U.S. Congress, President Clinton and two unified school districts.

The dissenting Judge was Latino. He is Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, a native of Southern California and appointed to the federal bench in 1989 by President George H. W. Bush in one of the earliest judiciary appointive actions of his Presidency. He did not have the cynical Senatorial road blocks facing his son, President George W. Bush, in his so far unheard of 13 month-old appointment of the eminently qualified Miguel Estrada to the federal bench.

However, this decision, affecting nine western states, highlights the problem that the hypocritical Democratic Senators are contributing to, moving to a possible stall of judicial action across the nation from judiciary vacancies.

The hypocrisy of the Democrat dominated Senate was particularly evident as this body passed a 99-1(!) condemnation of the Ninth Circuit decision! Antique Senator Robert Byrd even had the chutzpah to call the liberal judges "stupid!"

But my words are inconsequential; the expressions in his dissent by Judge Fernandez, however, are vital and demand reading. They are reflective of an intellect heavily laced with common sense and a dash of Latino non-political conservatism, the rule of unwritten law for the purpose of living and letting live. The clarity and non-legal simplicity of his opinion and his inherent command of the English language is awesome.

Here are some excerpts from Judge Fernandez' dissent:

"We are asked to hold that inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in this nation?s Pledge of Allegiance violates the religion clauses of the Constitution of the United States. We should do no such thing. We should, instead, recognize that those clauses were not designed to drive religious expression out of public thought; they were written to avoid discrimination. We can run through the litany of tests and concepts which have floated to the surface from time to time. Were we to do so, the one that appeals most to me, the one I think to be correct, is the concept that what the religion clauses of the First Amendment require is neutrality; that those clauses are, in effect, an early kind of equal protection provision and assure that government will neither discriminate for nor discriminate against a religion or religions."

Further in his dissent, Judge Fernandez writes:

"But, legal world abstractions and ruminations aside, when all is said and done, the danger that 'under God' in our Pledge of Allegiance will tend to bring about a theocracy or suppress somebody?s beliefs is so minuscule as to be de minimis [a common law principle whereby judges will not sit in judgement of extremely minor transgressions of the law. It has been restated as 'the law does not concern itself with trifles'] The danger that phrase presents to our First Amendment freedoms is picayune at most."

Judge Fernandez, a bit further in his dissent:

"Some, who rather choke on the notion of de minimis, have resorted to the euphemism 'ceremonial deism.' But whatever it is called (I care not), it comes to this: such phrases as 'In God We Trust,' or 'under God' have no tendency to establish a religion in this country or to suppress anyone?s exercise, or non-exercise, of religion, except in the fevered eye of persons who most fervently would like to drive all tincture of religion out of the public life of our polity."

"What I do say is that the de minimis tendency of the Pledge to establish a religion or to interfere with its free exercise is no constitutional violation at all."

Except on the Ninth Circuit Court!

I, for one, will still sing "God Bless America", I respect the words "God" and "Creator" in the Declaration of Independence and I do not mind having said "So help me God" when I was sworn in to the United States Army or when I entered the Executive Office of The President"!

Thank you Judge Fernandez! You are grossly overdue on your Social Security, Judges Goodwin and Reinhardt!

Fernando Oaxaca
310-559-2727


About Fernando Oaxaca:
Excerpted from an email letter. Reprinted by permission of the author.




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