WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Thursday that the Justice Department will fight to overturn a federal court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance can’t be recited in public schools because it contains a reference to God.
Gonzales said the pledge is one of several expressions of national identity and patriotism that make mention of God but don’t violate the Constitution’s ban on state-sponsored religion.
The high court “has affirmed time and again that such official acknowledgments of our nation’s religious heritage, foundation and character are constitutional,” Gonzales said in a statement a day after the ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in San Francisco.
Karlton’s decision could put the issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments. The court sidestepped the issue last year, ruling atheist Michael Newdow had no standing to bring the case on behalf of his daughter because he did not have custody of her.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted late Thursday to condemn the ruling saying the phrase “one nation under God” reflects the religious faith central to the founding of the nation.
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