March 21, 2003
WASHINGTON -- The House voted Thursday to condemn a federal appeals court's rulings that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because of its reference to God.
The nonbinding resolution, passed 400-7 with 15 members voting present, states that the phrase "one nation under God" in the pledge reflects the religious faith central to the founding of the nation and that its recitation is a patriotic act, not a statement of religious faith.
All of Florida's representatives voted in favor of the resolution.
It urged the attorney general to appeal the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court and encouraged the continued voluntary recitation of the pledge in school classrooms.
"The 9th Circuit continues to get it wrong," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. He said the court had refused to rehear the case at a time when the nation is preparing for "an impending war to defend the values upon which our great nation is founded."
The court last summer ruled in favor of Michael Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who said his daughter shouldn't be subjected to collective recitations of the pledge. On Feb. 28, the court stood by that ruling.
Bush administration officials have criticized the rulings, but have not said whether the administration will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.