00 3/28/2013 1:38 AM
dom@, 3/28/2013 1:08 AM:

Junker God

By The Sun of Lowell, Mass.

The atheists are back. They're making another run at the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, taking new aim at the Acton-Boxboro Regional School District's policy on free expression.

"John Doe" and the American Humanist Association are the plaintiffs in the case, arguing that the words "under God" violate the equal rights amendment in the Massachusetts Constitution.

This is a new legal tack for the atheists, who have previously challenged the words "under God" as violating the separation of church and state. Of course, they've lost that battle in numerous state and federal courts but aren't about to give up.

Now atheists are equating their fight to the same issues surrounding the battle to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Give the atheists credit for persistence. And playing the Massachusetts card is brilliant. Outside of California and New York, they couldn't have picked a more liberal court to try their new strategy.

By the way, did we mention that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court went out of its way to hear this case? That's right. The SJC reached down into Middlesex Superior Court where Judge Jane Haggerty ruled against "John Doe" and the atheists and in favor of the Acton-Boxboro School District. That was last June. In her 24-page opinion, Haggerty wrote that the pledge is not a religious document or ceremony but a patriotic exercise that teachers and students can opt out of if

they choose.
Acton-Boxboro school officials testified that no student had ever been punished or intimidated for refusing to say the pledge, an argument the atheists were relying on to win the case.

The basis of Haggerty's ruling can be found in three separate federal cases dating back to 2000. In all instances, the courts ruled against removing "under God" from the pledge.

So why would the SJC be interested in the Acton-Boxboro ruling? There are only two reasons: First, the court might want to reaffirm the lower court's ruling to put these frivolous challenges to rest; or, second, it is intrigued by the atheists' "equal protection under the law" argument, which, in 2004 led to a narrow SJC victory for gay-marriage advocates (Goodrich v. Department of Public Health).

On the face of it, there isn't anything to worry about. The equal-protection argument seems to be a legal stretch. On the other hand, this is Massachusetts, and the SJC is controlled by liberal justices who have a penchant for legal activism.

We can only trust, in God, that the court does the right thing.

Read more: www.sentinelandenterprise.com/editorial/ci_22880521/under-god-faces-new-legal-attack#ixzz2...