State trial court rejects challenge to pledge of allegiance in schools

Howard Friedman,  Religion Clause

In Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, (MA Super. Ct., June 5, 2012), a Massachusetts trial court rejected a state constitutional challenge to the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase “under God”, in Massachusetts schools at the beginning of each school day. No student is required to take part in the recitation. Plaintiffs claimed, however, that the phrase “under God” is a “religious truth” that contradicts their own atheist-humanist beliefs, and that daily recitation of the pledge discriminates against them by marginalizing them and classifying them as unpatriotic. The court held that the insertion of the phrase “under God” was a reference to the historical and religious traditions of the United States and did not turn the Pledge into a religious exercise nor violate anti-discrimination requirements. The Becket Fund issued a press release announcing the decision. In a press release yesterday, the American Humanist Association says that plaintiffs will appeal the decision.