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The Pledge of Allegiance Strike Two!
The full 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals (composed of 28 judgeships) recently
upheld the wildly unpopular 2-1 ruling of its smaller three judge panel, agreeing
with Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that it was unconstitutional for students
to recite the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Judge Stephen Reinhardt,
concurring in the full 9th Circuit order, explained:
We may not – we must not – allow public sentiment or outcry to guide our
decisions. . . . Any suggestion, whenever or wherever made, that federal judges
should be encouraged by the approval of the majority or deterred by popular
disfavor is fundamentally inconsistent with the Constitution and must be firmly
Based on this pronouncement Judge Reinhardt apparently considers himself to
be a greater constitutional authority than the Founder’s themselves. For example,
George Washington, in setting forth fundamental principles from within the Constitutional
republic he had helped birth, declared:
[T]he fundamental principle of our Constitution . . . enjoins [requires]
that the will of the majority shall prevail.
Thomas Jefferson similarly pronounced:
[T]he will of the majority [is] the natural law of every society [and] is
the only sure guardian of the rights of man.
Contrary to Judge Reinhardt’s ill-informed assertion, our founding documents
stipulate that our general public policies must represent – and not oppose –
“the consent of the governed.” The Constitution defines what establishes that
consent: usually a Thomas Jefferson Independence National Historical Park Collection
3 simple majority, although on occasion it can be two-thirds or three-fourths,
but never is a policy implemented by less than a majority. Does this mean that
minorities are therefore to be disregarded or trodden upon? Of course not. As
[T]hough the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to
be rightful must be reasonable; the minority possess their equal rights which
equal law must protect.
However, equal rights are not the same as equal power; the minority is never
the equivalent of the majority and is never to exercise control over it. Nevertheless,
despite a near 90 percent national approval for the use of the Pledge, the 9th
Circuit has usurped “the consent of the governed.” On what basis? Civil libertarians
explain that “the consent of the governed” is nothing more than what they call
the “tyranny of the majority”; however, in opposing that supposed tyranny, Reinhardt
has instead instituted a “tyranny of the minority.” This is especially apparent
in decisions such as that on the Pledge, where individual dissident citizens
(such as Newdow) provide activist judges (such as Reinhardt) an opportunity
to enact policies that would be impossible to achieve through the normal legislative
Judge Reinhardt (and those like him) feel compelled to usurp the rights of
the people at large; they declare themselves free from the customary restraints
because they claim that the judiciary must be an “independent” branch, unaffected
by the will of the people. Yet Thomas Jefferson wisely cautioned:
It should be remembered as an axiom of eternal truth in politics that whatever
power in any government is independent is absolute also. . . . Independence
can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass.
As Jefferson explained:
A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone is a good thing; but
independence of the will of the nation is a solecism.
(According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, a solecism is an absurdity and a
gross deviation from the rules.)
Despite the self-evident truth of these rudimentary principles, many judges
nevertheless push against their constitutionally erected restraints and ignore
“the will of the nation.”
Judge Reinhardt (and the fourteen other 9th Circuit judges who concurred in
his ruling) considers himself independent of the people and the laws passed
by them; clearly he is not well versed in historical constitutional understandings.
This is not surprising, however, for Reinhardt (appointed to bench by President
Carter in 1980) has a lengthy history of constitutional-revisionist rulings.
For example, he has ruled that the Second Amendment’s “right of the people
to keep and bear arms” does not pertain to citizens; that there is a constitutional
right to die through physician-assisted suicides; that the Fourth Amendment
prohibits the use of police dogs to track down drugs or criminal suspects; and
that the death penalty is unconstitutional despite the Fifth Amendment’s explicit
Jefferson seemed to have judges like Reinhardt in mind when he warned:
[T]o consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions
[is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the
despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more
so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power.
Considering Reinhardt’s aberrant positions (including his outspokenness about
the need for openly homosexual judges to serve on federal courts), one is not
surprised to learn that Judge Reinhardt was a liberal Democratic Party activist
before his appointment to the bench; he has indeed carried his “passions for
party” onto the bench with him. To the people’s detriment, unrestrained activist
judges such as Reinhardt too often display their “passions for party, for power”
through their eagerness to enact policies just as if they were duly elected
legislators from a particular political party.
While the 9th Circuit’s Pledge ruling adversely affects 9.6 million students
in the nine states of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho,
Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii, that decision is not yet the final word. US Attorney
General John Ashcroft announced that the Justice Department and White House
would appeal the 9th Circuit decision to the Supreme Court. As Attorney General
For centuries our nation has referenced God as we have expressed our patriotism
and national identity in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, national
anthem, on our coins, and in the Gettysburg Address. The Supreme Court of
the United States opens each session by saying, “God save this honorable court.”
The Justice Department will spare no effort to preserve the rights of all
our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag.
Dave Gordon, the superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District attacked
by Newdow, announced that students could continue to say the Pledge until the
Supreme Court renders its position on the issue. However, he indicated that
if the Pledge is struck down that the district would find other ways to inculcate
the values of the Pledge – that they would “substitute other patriotic exercises,
such as a song, a poem or quotes from historic figures.”
Such a policy of substitution could actually result in even more frequent references
to God. For example, were students to recite the Declaration of Independence
instead of the Pledge, they would acknowledge God four times rather than just
once; and were they to sing the full National Anthem, they would sing “and this
be our motto, ‘In God is our trust’”; or were they to read the Inaugural Address
of virtually any President, they would mention God more often than in the Pledge.
Most experts believe that the Supreme Court will overturn the 9th Circuit Pledge
ruling. Such a reversal would not be unusual since the 9th Circuit is the Appeals
Court most often reversed by the Supreme Court.
For example, even though the Supreme Court usually accepts only about 85 cases
per year from the eleven different federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, in its
1997 term, 28 of its cases – almost one third – came from the 9th Circuit. The
Supreme Court overturned 27 of those 28 decisions, and nearly two-thirds of
those reversals were in unanimous decisions (that is, even the liberals and
activists on the Supreme Court agreed with the conservatives that the 9th Circuit
had gone too far).
The Pledge decision has not gone unnoticed by Congress. Rep. Todd Akin (MO)
has introduced a bill that would completely remove from federal courts the ability
to hear any challenge to the Pledge. Rep. Akin – apparently unlike Judge Reinhardt
– has read the Constitution and knows that in Art. III, Sec. 2, the Founders
gave Congress this power as one of what Alexander Hamilton called “constitutional
arms” for its own “effectual powers of self-defense.” Rep. Akin therefore has
filed “The Pledge Protection Act” that already has over 150 congressional cosponsors,
and the list is rapidly growing.
A second and different “constitutional arm . . . of self-defense” has been
introduced by Rep. Ernest Istook (OK) in HJ RES 46. Istook’s “constitutional
arm” is a long-needed constitutional amendment to restore religious freedom
and – according to the bill – “include protection of the Pledge of Allegiance,
the display of the Ten Commandments, and school prayer.” The wording is straightforward:
To secure the people’s right to acknowledge God according to the dictates
of conscience: The people retain the right to pray and to recognize their
religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including
schools. The United States and the States shall not establish any official
religion nor require any person to join in prayer or religious activity.
This simple amendment, if passed, would completely undo the past four decades
of religion- hostile decisions made by every federal court in the nation, including
the US Supreme Court, and would overturn hundreds of rulings.
You can contact your Congressman to let him know your feelings about either
of these bills. If you do not know the name of your Representative or Senator,
go to our website (www.wallbuilders.com) and on the front page under “Resources,”
click on “Helpful
Links”; under “Legislative Policy Organizations,” click on “Find
Your Congressman” to take you to a site that will identify your representatives
in Congress. If you want to find out more about the status of Rep. Akin’s or
Rep. Istook’s bills, go to the Library of Congress website (http://thomas.loc.gov)
and enter the bill numbers or descriptions.
A Presidential Profile
Many of our nation’s Presidents have had remarkable but untold stories. The
following story about President Eisenhower, published over a generation ago,
was so inspiring that we wanted to share it with you.
A Question of Courage
by Grace Perkins Oursler
(Reprinted from a 1959 Readers Digest School Reader, condensed and adapted
from a Guideposts article.)
The boy had fallen, running home after school, and skinned his left knee. It
was no more than a scratch. His trousers were not even torn, but by night the
knee had begun to ache. Nothing much, he thought, being 13 and the sturdy son
of a frontiersman. Ignoring the pain, he knelt and said his prayers. Then he
climbed into bed in the room where he and his five brothers slept.
His leg was painful the next morning, but he still did not tell anyone. Life
on the farm kept everyone busy. He always had to be up at six to do his chores
before school. He had to do them well or he would be sent back to do them over
again, no matter what else he had to miss, including meals. In his home, discipline
was fair but stern.
Two mornings later the leg ached too badly for him to drag himself to the
barn. It was Sunday and he could stay home while the rest of the family drove
to town. He sat in the parlor and dozed until his brothers returned from Sunday
Mom and Dad did not come home with them because Sunday was parents’ day off.
The boys did the housework and cooked the big meal of the week, while mother
and father stayed on to attend church.
The Fight Begins
But by the time dinner was ready, the boy had climbed into bed. The shoe had
to be cut off his swollen and discolored leg.
“Why on earth didn’t you tell somebody?” asked his mother. “Go quick,” she
called to his father, “and fetch the doctor.”
She bathed the knee, foot and thigh, and wiped the boy’s sweating forehead
with a moist, cool cloth. Even as she watched the angry infection grow worse,
she remained calm. Mom had nursed her boys through accidents and ailments from
toothaches to scarlet fever. One son she had lost, but that only made her calmer
and more determined to fight for the others.
Old Dr. Conklin examined the leg and shook his head. “It’s not likely we can
The invalid sat up stiffly.
“What’s that mean?” he asked huskily.
“It means,” explained the doctor gently, “if things get worse we’ll have to
cut off your leg.”
“Not me!” stormed the boy. “I won’t have it! I’d rather die!” “The longer
we wait, the more we will have to take off,” urged the doctor.
“You won’t take any off!” The boy’s voice broke with a youthful crack, as his
mother turned away, shaken. But there was the look of a man in the boy’s eyes.
A Promise to be Kept
Dr. Conklin stalked out, nodding to the mother to follow him. As he stood in
the hallway explaining to the parents what probably would happen, they could
hear the sick boy calling for his brother: “Ed! Ed! Come up here, will you?”
The brother stamped in. Then they heard the sick lad’s voice, high pitched
with pain: “If I go out of my head, Ed, don’t let them cut off my leg. Promise
me, Ed – promise!”
In a moment Ed came out and ran to the kitchen. When he returned his mother
said, “Ed, what’s your brother asking for?”
“Fork. To bite on; to keep from screaming.”
Then Ed stood outside the bedroom door, his arms folded. Quite clearly he was
Ed looked straight at Dr. Conklin. “Nobody’s going to saw off that leg!” he
“But, Ed – you’ll be sorry,” gasped the doctor.
“Maybe so, Doc. But I gave him my word.”
And nothing changed that. If Ed had not stood his ground, father and mother
might have yielded. They were not yet sure that amputation was necessary. The
stubborn attitude first of the sick boy and then of his brother was unbelievable,
for defiance of authority was unknown in that home. Yet there was Ed, standing
before the sickroom door.
“Guess we’ll wait and see how he looks by tonight, eh, Doc?” said the father.
For two days and nights Ed stood guard, sleeping at the threshold, not leaving
even to eat. The fever mounted and the suffering boy became delirious, babbling
with pain. The older brother did not weaken, even though the discoloration of
the swollen leg was creeping toward the hip. Ed remained firm because he had
given his promise. Also he shared the frontiersman’s dread of being less than
physically perfect. A man needed his arms and legs to do the hard work on a
The parents knew that their son would never forgive an amputation, and Ed stood
firm whenever the doctor returned. Once, in helpless rage, Dr. Conklin shouted,
“It’s murder! Nothing but a miracle can save the boy now.” He left, slamming
the front door.
Mother, father and watchful Ed shared the same thought as their anxious eyes
turned from the doorway. Had they forgotten their faith because of their fears?
Why, this sick boy’s grandfather, that vigorous and inspiring old farmer-minister,
had always believed in healings through faith. Now, in this desperate hour,
the three went to their knees at the bedside.
They prayed, taking turns in leading one another. Father, mother – and at last
Edgar – each would rise in turn, go about the farm work and rejoin the continual
prayer. During the second night the other four brothers joined in the prayers.
The next morning, when the faithful old doctor stopped by again, his experienced
eye saw a sign. The swelling was going down!
Dr. Conklin closed his eyes and made a rusty prayer of his own – a prayer of
thanksgiving. Even after the sick boy dropped into a normal sleep, one member
of the family after another kept the prayer vigil all through the night.
It was nightfall again and the lamps were lighted when the boy opened his eyes.
The swelling was away down now. The discoloration had almost faded. In three
weeks – pale and weak, but with eyes clear and voice strong – the boy could
once again stand up.
And Ike Eisenhower was ready to face life.”
(End of reprinted article)
This early Divine intervention by God in the life of a young Dwight Eisenhower
produced a later blessing to America and the world.
The Story of a Leader
Eisenhower was born in 1890 in Texas and raised as a Presbyterian in Kansas.
His mother had been a Mennonite and was a strong pacifist who morally opposed
war, but the young Eisenhower believed that the best way to ensure peace was
through a strong military. He therefore applied and was accepted at West Point
Military Academy, where he graduated as a commissioned army officer in 1915.
Prior to World War II, Eisenhower served as a young officer under General Douglas
McArthur in the Philippines. When the War broke out, Eisenhower was assigned
to command a military training base in Louisiana with almost half-a-million
soldiers. General George Marshall was so impressed with Eisenhower’s abilities
that he made him the liaison between American and British strategists in London;
and Prime Minister Winston Churchill was so taken with Eisenhower’s skills that
he had him appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces
in Europe. As a result of Eisenhower’s leadership – particularly through bold
measures such as the D-Day invasion – the Nazis and their allies were crushed
and a wave of freedom swept across Europe and the world.
Following his service in World War II, Eisenhower became the very first chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military, served a brief stint as president
of Columbia University, was named the Supreme Commander of NATO, and was elected
US President in 1952.
Throughout Ike’s life, his early religious training – more apparent at some
times than at others – never fully departed him. For example, at his first Presidential
Inauguration in 1953, Ike took his oath of office upon two Bibles – the one
used by George Washington in his 1789 inauguration, and the one given to Ike
by his mother upon his graduation from West Point. After being sworn in, Ike
personally offered the inaugural prayer rather than having a minister do so:
My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate
to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private
prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads:
“Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment, my future associates in the
executive branch of government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full
and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and
their fellow citizens everywhere. Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly
right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby,
and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be
for all the people regardless of station, race, or calling. May cooperation
be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our
Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for
the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.”
During his first term, Eisenhower signed the federal law inserting the phrase
“under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance. Why? According to Eisenhower:
In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s
heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual
weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace
For his second inauguration, Eisenhower was actually sworn in twice. Because
the legally designated inaugural day fell on a Sunday, Ike refused to have a
public ceremony; the official oath was administered to him on the Sabbath in
private. The following day, however, he had a public ceremony and was sworn
in (again) before large crowds at the Capitol, taking his oath on his West Point
Bible as he had at his first inauguration.
Eisenhower literally was used of God to bless Europe, America, and the entire
world, none of whom would have experienced that blessing had not God sovereignly
intervened in Ike’s life during his youth.
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