Press Release

“Under God” Battled in Massachusetts Court Round Four Begins…

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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Yesterday, in Woburn, Massachusetts, a state court judge heard arguments on whether the Pledge of Allegiance should continue as a ritual in Acton-Boxborough school district. In the fourth in a series of lawsuits against the Pledge of Allegiance, secular Humanists have sued the school district, asking the Court to remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge. Becket Law argued on behalf of schoolchildren, their parents, and the Knights of Columbus who value the tradition and the philosophical meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance and its place in the education of schoolchildren.

The secular Humanist Plaintiffs in this case have tried a new twist on an old theme, focusing on the argument that the Pledge discriminates against Atheists, rather than that it establishes a religion. But their premise requires the same old arguments rejected in past cases: that the Pledge is a prayer or a theological statement. Becket has successfully refuted this argument in federal courts by explaining that the words ‘under God’ have the important political meaning that our rights are not limited by the state, but come from a higher power. The other aspect of this case that has not changed is the fact that all students have the right to decline to say the Pledge. This right was established by the Supreme Court in 1943, but Plaintiffs, like the Atheists in the cases before them, continue to argue that this is not enough. They wish to silence those who, like our clients, wish to continue to say the Pledge in its entirety.

The judge took the case under advisement, and we expect to see her decision in the coming months. There is no telling how the case will come out, but we hope that Massachusetts will uphold the philosophy of our founders and allow our clients to continue saying the Pledge. Stay tuned for round four!