POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

One Nation...Under God

by David Trumbull

October 7, 2005

Massachusetts Representative Ruth Balser (D-Newton) was among the 30 Democratic legislators who voted against a resolution supporting the Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase "under God." She justified her vote saying: "It is the court's responsibility not the Legislature's to interpret the Constitution.'' (Boston Herald, September 29). Where she got that idea I don't know. Perhaps that's what they are teaching in the Newton schools these days. I do know that back in Mr. Dale McIntosh's ninth grade civics class in Cass City (Michigan) High School, we learned that there are three equal branches of government. Sadly, Representative Balser is not alone among liberals and Democrats who would make unelected judges our supreme rulers.

There is a certain timeliness, now in Italian-American Heritage Month (Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 6 Section 15EEEE) to this debate over the Pledge of Allegiance. The original pledge was published in 1892 for the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America and first appeared in Boston's Youth's Companion, then a widely circulated journal. Over the next fifty years the pledge underwent a few changes in wording and in 1942 was adopted by the Congress of the United States as our official Pledge of Allegiance. The words prescribed by Congress were:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The phrase "under God" was inserted by Congress in 1954. You may see other accounts that say that President Eisenhower added "under God" to the Pledge. That is incorrect; only Congress, not the President and not the courts, makes laws. It was an act of Congress, that made the Pledge official and it was an act of Congress that amended the Pledge.

Interestingly, the effort to add "under God" to the Pledge was lead in large part by the Knights of Columbus. So the great Italian navigator just keeps popping up in connection with our American patriotic customs!

Congress has again spoken regarding the Pledge. In 2002 congress reaffirmed the Pledge in its current form, including the words "under God." In that act (S. 2690) Congress found that:

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals erroneously held...that the Pledge of Allegiance's use of the express religious reference `under God' violates the First Amendment to the Constitution.

And that:

The erroneous rationale of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals...would lead to the absurd result that the Constitution's use of the express religious reference `Year of our Lord' in Article VII violates the First Amendment to the Constitution, and that, therefore, a school district's policy and practice of teacher-led voluntary recitations of the Constitution itself would be unconstitutional.

For more information about the Pledge, the Constitution, and other vital documents relating to America's history and government, see the website of the Massachusetts Republican Assembly There you will find a "Library of Liberty" full of useful free information.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.