by Patrick J. Buchanan – July 1, 2002
“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
So Jefferson wrote to fellow Virginian James Madison in the year Madison authored his country’s Constitution.
It’s past time for “a little rebellion” against federal jurists who are perverting that Constitution to make themselves petty dictators.
On June 26, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared, 2 to 1, that the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States is unconstitutional, as it contains the words: “under God.” When the decision becomes final, the Pledge will be forbidden in every public school in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
That phrase, “under God,” was put into the Pledge in 1954 by an act of Congress and Dwight Eisenhower. It has been recited by millions of children. Yet the court now says that it violates the First Amendment, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
What religion did Congress establish with the words “under God”? Catholicism? Methodism? The judges do not say. They only say that since “under God” is not neutral about religion, it violates separation of church and state.
Michael A. Newdow went to the court to prevent his second-grade daughter from having to recite the Pledge. But since the Supreme Court ruled in 1942 that no one could be required to recite the Pledge, this sounds bogus. Newdow’s daughter could have remained silent.
But for this Sacramento atheist, silence is not enough. Since he is offended by “under God,” no schoolchildren are to be permitted to recite the words. That was his demand. And two U.S. judges agreed that to permit the Pledge is to confront his daughter “with an unacceptable choice between participating and protesting.”
Thus, because one child is troubled by having to decide to stay silent or say the words “under God,” no schoolchild in America can say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of their country.
Not having met Newdow, let me yet say that what he did to his daughter – exploiting this little girl to parade his anti-God bigotry – is revolting. She will suffer more from the taunts and insult of playmates than she would ever have by saying the Pledge or remaining silent.
America is the freest country in the world. It provides for oddballs like Newdow by declaring they are not to be required to recite any pledge or prayer. But for bigots like Newdow, freedom is not enough. Their agenda is intolerance. They wish not only to be free from saying prayers and pledges they despise, they want to deny the community the right to express its patriotism and faith. The mindset is totalitarian.
The temptation is to demand that Congress impeach the two judges. But that would make them martyrs. Congress should rather re-enact that 1954 law; then, using its power to restrict court jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution, strip from all federal courts any right to rule on the Pledge of Allegiance. Remove them entirely.
And as all federal courts below the Supreme Court are creations of Congress, Congress should require reconfirmation of all federal judges after eight years. This would give elected representatives of the people a way to grade the performance of unelected judges, some of whom have forgotten the meaning of judicial restraint.
As Newdow and these judges used a 7-year-old girl to impose an atheist agenda on America, Congress should seize on this outrage to drive judges back into the narrow stall set aside for them in the Constitution.
The ruling will not take effect until appeals have been heard. Attorney General Ashcroft should take the decision directly to the Supreme Court. Let us see which justices will hold that the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States violates the Constitution of the United States.
Let the Supreme Court have this opportunity to strike down not only the 9th Circuit decision, but all court precedents upon which it is based, and restore the original intent of Madison and the Framers.
Should the Supreme Court uphold the 9th Circuit, the country should defy the Court. Conservatives and populists should seize on this attack on faith and patriotism to restore constitutionalism to the courts and begin the overthrow of a cultural revolution that judicial dictators, appointed for life, have imposed upon us.
Yes, Mr. Jefferson, it’s time for a little rebellion.