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By Geoff Metcalf

July 1, 2002

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge Of Allegiance:  "Under God"


Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?"    --Red Skelton

Three judges voted 2-1 and the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the Pledge of Allegiance has sparked a firestorm of rhetoric and a hasty judicial do over.

A great deal has been written already by columnists, pundits, and tap dancing politicians of all political persuasions and I tried to resist the temptation to write about it.  I failed.

This issue is (according to political insiders) “radioactive”. 

Democrats want it to just go away…FAST.  Republicans see it as a political target of opportunity to be exploited.  The longer this scab can be picked at, the more tender and raw the fester will become, and the better politically for republicans.

The 9th Circuit is the most radical (and most often overturned) court in the country.  That is a fact recognized by both political parties. It is dominated by Clinton appointees  I have had lawyers tell me they consider being ruled against by the 9th Circuit is a benefit since statistically it improves their opportunity to win on appeal.

Dr. Michael Newdow, a Sacramento, California, physician with a law degree who represented himself, said he brought the lawsuit that led to the ruling "because I am an atheist and this offends me."   Guess what?  This ruling apparently offends the majority of the country.

It is fascinating that the very constitutional principles which allow Newdow to embrace and articulate an offensive minority view is the tool he uses to offend the majority.

Tom Daschle (proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day) called the ruling “nuts.”  Harvard law professor (and one time possible Supreme Court prospect) Laurence Tribe predicted that the Supreme Court would reverse the decision unless the Ninth Circuit reverses itself. "I would bet an awful lot on that," he said.

Believe me the last thing the democrats want (especially in an important congressional election year) is to have the Supreme Court slap liberal groupthink.

The 9th U.S. Circuit brain flatulence ruled that Congress violated the        Constitution's "establishment clause" by adding the words "under God" to the simple 29-word declaration in 1954.

The establishment clause, a part of the First Amendment, bars the government from setting up an official religion or taking steps in that direction.

However, the KEY point the liberal left seems content in ignoring is that the intent was (and is) to prevent the establishment of a government religion.  The intent was and is to prevent the government from controlling religion…NOT to prevent religion from influencing government.  No doubt Newdow would want all currency recalled and “In God We Trust” be deleted.

I was recently asked if Judge Alfred Goodwin of U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was “pressured” to amend his original decision.  [Pregnant pause…sly half grin…deep sigh…]  Well, no…not really…kinda/sorta…what exactly do you mean by “pressured”?

No judge (and no political supporter of any judge) is foolish enough to acknowledge influencing (or being influenced in) a decision.  However, circuit court appointments are very hard to get.  It takes a LOT of politics and years of lobbying effort.  These judges don’t get a call one day, “Hey there is going to be an opening on the 9th Circuit.  Are you interested?”  Not EVEN!  Circuit Court Judges work hard positioning themselves for an appointment and the political coinage is significant.

The conventional wisdom from political insiders is that Goodwin’s phone was (in all probability)  ringing off the hook from one time political backers who must have been really annoyed, torqued, and p.o.-ed over his ruling and no doubt let him know.

This decision is the personification of the Metcalf bromide “there are consequences to the things you do and don’t do…”.

The democrats want this to go away…the sooner the better.  The GOP wants the issue to linger…the longer the better.

And there are the inevitable unintended consequences.

*    The issue helps President Bush because it keeps Daschle et all off his back

*    The Democrats are forced into a defensive posture scrambling for plausible deniability.

*    At a time when everyone is anticipating the next terrorist attack on America it is political suicide to articulate any message (whether it be reasoned, scholarly, or visceral) that can be perceived as "unpatriotic".

*    One consultant even expressed the concern that if this issue doesn't go away it could potentially impact on the November Senate races. 

Before the stay was announced, Americans across the country sounded off on talk radio, in coffee shops, bar, classrooms, and military bases.   The consensus opinion seems to be that the ruling is "ridiculous" and "just nuts".

© Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

Geoff is a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers.  A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Metcalf has hosted his radio talk show on the ABC/Disney owned and operated KSFO and in worldwide syndication.