SAN FRANCISCO --- Often labeled a bastion for left-of-center judicial activism that's out of touch with the Supreme Court, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has countered those sentiments by upholding the use of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency.
The appeals court rejected the idea Thursday that the phrases violate the separation of church and state. By doing so, the court turned away two legal challenges by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow, who said the references to God were unconstitutional.
According to the New York Daily News: "The same appeals court caused a national uproar and prompted accusations of judicial activism when it decided in Newdow's favor in 2002, ruling that the pledge violated the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion. President George W. Bush called the 2002 decision "ridiculous," senators passed a resolution condemning the ruling and Newdow received death threats."
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who ruled in Newdow's favor eight years ago, wrote a 123-page dissent to the 60-page majority opinion and said:
"Under no sound legal analysis adhering to binding Supreme Court precedent could this court uphold state-directed, teacher-led, daily recitation of the 'under God' version of the Pledge of Allegiance by children in public schools."