Judge says pledge decision follows court precedent

By David Kravets, The Associated Press
Thursday July 04, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — The appeals court judge who stunned the nation by declaring the Pledge of Allegiance an unconstitutional endorsement of religion says he was following Supreme Court precedents. 

Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, in an interview with The Associated Press, said he and concurring Judge Stephen Reinhardt believe the 2-1 decision last week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was consistent with a long line of church-school rulings from the nation’s highest court. 

Most say if the case reaches the Supreme Court, it is unlikely to be upheld. 

Goodwin said the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which calls for the separation of church and state, has been used by the Supreme Court to bar a host of religious activity in schools — including clergy-led prayers at graduations and student-led prayers at school sporting events. 

“The strongest cases were what the Supreme Court has been saying about school prayers, including at athletic events,” Goodwin said in a telephone interview from his home in Sisters, Ore. “This indicated that the Supreme Court was reading the Establishment Clause rather broadly. We felt we were consistent with those opinions.”