The highest court in the state of Massachusetts will begin hearing a case where the Pledge of Allegiance itself is on trial. An anonymous atheist couple has brought suit against the state for the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The focus of the lawsuit is the simple phrase “under God”, which despite years of use, continues to offend the eminently offendable atheists. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts will consider Doe v. Action-Boxborough Regional School District on Wednesday. Their verdict will rule on whether or not the required recitation of the pledge violates the rights of students.
In the past, plaintiffs have attacked the phrase “under God” as being prejudicial to atheists and even non-Christians, in an effort to remove the pledge from our schools. This time around, the legal team representing the plaintiffs will argue that compulsory recitation of the pledge represents an attack on the state’s equal rights laws, which guarantee equal protection for everyone under those laws. This is very similar to the route that gay-marriage supporters recently used in a similarly successful case argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
A lawyer for the defendants, who are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, says that if the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, “you would then see a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country.” Meanwhile, he continued, “A win for us would completely avoid that unnecessary harm. And it would affirm that it is not discriminatory to have the words ‘under God’ in the pledge.”
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