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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wedge of Allegiance 

The House of Representatives has passed their bill H.R. 2028, which would bar federal courts from hearing any cases regarding the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The vote was 247-173, with 34 Democrats voting in favor and 6 Republicans voting against. The committee report, including transcript, can be found here. You can also link to the webcast from the Full Committee page.

Similar to the Marriage Protection Act passed in the House this summer, this bill is seen as not having no hope of passing the Senate, and many view it as simply being presented as a wedge issue to be used in this fall's elections. By forcing representatives to vote on it, they are put on the record as being "against affirming God" or "in favor of gay marriage," with no regard to what the grounds are for that position.

The manner in which the issue is presented by the opposing parties is exemplified in this excerpt from the AP article:
Rep. Todd Akin , R-Mo., who wrote the amendment on legislation before the House on Thursday, said the outcome could be different [from this summer's Newdow case] if the high court rules on the substance, or "if we allow activist judges to start creating law and say that it is wrong to somehow allow schoolchildren to say 'under God' in the pledge." In such a scenario, Akin said, the courts will have "emasculated the very heart of what America has always been about."

But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said, "We're playing with fire here, we are playing with the national unity of this country" by undoing 200 years of federal judicial review and letting each state make its own interpretation of constitutional law.
I found Rep. Akin's choice of words revealing. Is he saying it's the legislature's job to ensure that the Constitution and America as a whole are sufficiently manly?

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