Monday, June 14, 2004
Five gutless wonders: The U.S. Supreme Court today took the coward's way out and decided that litigious atheist Michael Newdow didn't have the standing to challenge the Pledge of Allegiance because he does not have custody of his daughter.
Frankly, it's mystifying why the court would make this ruling. Though ruling that Newdow doesn't have legal standing is certainly valid, this only forces a repeat of this saga somewhere down the line when a cusodial parent brings an identical suit (and you know the ACLU will find one). Once again, thousands of public dollars will be spent as another case winds its way up through the overburdened federal judiciary.
Then they'll have to make a decision.
The same decision they could've made this time.
Of course, the justices knew all this. So how do we really explain the decision to punt this case forward a couple more years?
Could it be the 2004 presidential race? That's the first thing that comes to mind.
Imagine (it isn't hard if you try) that the five justices who ruled that Newdow didn't have standing were of the opinion that "under God" is an impermissible establishment of religion. Such a ruling would create a huge public outcry -- the 9th Circuit's ruling prompted the House and Senate to almost unanimously condemn it -- and make the issue one for the presidential race.
Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry both support the inclusion of the words "under God" in the pledge, but a valid point would be made that the types of judges that Kerry would nominate for any vacancy to the nation's highest court would likely rule similarly.
Kerry would soon have a cultural double-whammy working against him -- both gay marriage and the pledge. He personally opposes both -- but refuses to do anything about them.
That's not leadership and it would hurt Kerry among those coveted swing voters.
So, are the justices playing politics? I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if that was the case.