Judicium Dei
By DS Gands
Apr 7, 2004
Print this page
Email this article

There are several reasons that the Newdow position gives me pause, but the first and foremost is the opposition to this nation’s history – the very foundation of freedom.


Michael Newdow has his case, Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow, before the Supreme Court, and arguments were heard by the justices, with the exception of Antonin Scalia, who was asked by Mr. Newdow to recuse himself, as did so.  I might add, with emphasis, Mr. Newdow is not the petitioner.


To illustrate the basis for pause, quotes of Mr. Newdow from that day, March 24, 2004, before the Court have been widely reported and, in summary, include the following:

1.      [‘under God’] in the Pledge of Allegiance is ‘indoctrinating children.

2.      Newdow stated that the government is supposed to stay out of religion.

3.      That the Court had no alternative but to disallow reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

4.      That the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge are unconstitutional and offensive.

5.      Testified that his daughter is not an atheist.

Good grief.

The justices expressed that they had reservations on whether the words were intended to express religion.  The Chief Justice noted for the record that Congress had unanimously added the words in 1954, and that did not, in his opinion, seem divisive.

Newdow responded saying, "That's only because no atheists can be elected to office." 

He is wrong.  California had a governor, Culbert L. Olson, who was said to be an atheist. 

There were concerns that this case is asking the Court to exercise power to declare federal law unconstitutional.  There were concerns about the impact on the child, Newdow and Mrs. Banning’s daughter, age nine.  The mother is opposed to the suit, and the Chief Justice stated that the issues have nothing to do with domestic relations.  Justice Anthony Kennedy quote Newdow as saying ‘I have every right as a father to try to influence this child.’  I agree to an extent, but not at the expense of American historical foundation.

Bottom line is that Newdow has parental rights, freedom of speech, and the right to challenge in court, however, Mr. Attorney Dr. Newdow does contradict himself, and in so doing, thwarts his case.   For example, Newdow told the Court that his daughter was not an atheist.  He said that the justices should consider her views as a developing young person.  Again, I paused.

"Imagine you're this one child with a class full of theists and you have this idea that you want to perhaps at least consider and you have everyone imposing their view on you," Newdow stated.  I read this and thought to myself, ‘And, she is going to live in a perfect world with the removal of ‘under God’ from the Pledge, and thereby never be in a situation in life, again, where others have opposing views?’  And, I paused, again, shaking my head, and trying to find some continuity in this man’s arguments.

"There's a principle here and I'm hoping the Court will uphold this principle so that we can finally go back and have every American want to stand up, face the flag, place their hand over their heart and pledge to one nation, indivisible, not divided by religion, with liberty and justice for all," he said.  [I think I stopped breathing on that one.]

This case had already been to court and failed in Illinois, and it makes me wonder if this particularly shallow position has not been forced and encouraged by those who would like to punish the Bush Administration, in particular?  It would not be unreasonable to consider that there is a hidden agenda in this effort.  Even the timing has a parallel given that it is an election season.  And, let us not forget, that everyone has a right to an opinion, as we read on.

George Bush, the elder, was campaigning for the presidency as the incumbent vice president in Chicago, Illinois, on August 27, 1987. An outdoor news conference was held at O'Hare Airport.  A reporter for the American Atheist news journal, Robert I. Sherman, who was reportedly fully accredited by the state of Illinois and an invited member of the press corps covering the national candidates, had an exchange with Vice President Bush. 

It has been reported that Mr. Bush said, “…I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Later, Mr. Sherman filed suit (1) to stop a Chicago school district from forcing his son to pledge allegiance to the United States.  Mr. Sherman brought before the court, allegations that his son had been physically and psychologically abused for refusing to pledge to ‘one nation under God’.  This was a bitter case, and a situation that caused a furor for members of Congress, not to mention the first Bush presidency. 

In 1988, Mr. Sherman had questioned Ed Murnane, cochairman of the Bush-Quayle '88 Illinois campaign, about the suit in Illinois, and Mr. Murnane allegedly replied that it was cow dung, or words to that effect.  Mr. Sherman lost the case. 

I have seen no evidence of abuse of Mr. Newdow’s child.  Only speculation and concern by others, that because of his actions, the child may suffer.

Within limits, Mr. Newdow has every right to shower his beliefs, views, opinions, and perspectives on his child.  He does not have the right, in my opinion, to overturn the 1954 Congressional ruling to include the recognition of American tradition and history by the inclusion of ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.  He has stated that his daughter is not an atheist.  He has stated that he is bringing this suit in the interest of his child.  He has stated that he wants to protect her from a room full of people with opposing views, when in fact, he says that her views are not opposing at all.  This leaves me with the conclusion that Mr. Newdow is simply an instrument of an agenda that has yet to be revealed in this matter. 

Our history is filled with testimonial references to ‘God’, from the birth of America to the present. 

“Blandishments will not fascinate us, nor will threats of a “halter” intimidate. For, under God, we are determined that wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die free men.” – Josiah Quincy, Observations on the Boston Port Bill, 1774.

“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army—Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; that is all we can expect—We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.” – General George Washington, general orders, July 2, 1776

“We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” –Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), U.S. president. speech, Nov. 19, 1863. Gettysburg Address, repr. In Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7, ed. Roy P. Basler (1953).  The fighting at Gettysburg July 1-3 claimed nearly 50,000 killed or wounded.

“From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President, On signing law for inclusion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, June 14, 1954

“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” - Ronald Reagan (b. 1911), U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, March 8, 1983

Motto of South Dakota: “Under God the People Rule.”

 “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.” - Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), U.S. president. letter to Henry L. Pierce and others, Apr. 6, 1859

Red Skelton, a famous comedian, poet, artist, and patriot of the 20th Century, shared with all of us, his remarkable experience in school regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, some of the history that followed in his lifetime, and his concerns for the future.  It is relevant to this day.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a part of America.  America was founded by people who believed in God, and who based a great deal of the principle of this nation on that foundation.   Regardless of whether a person believes in God, this nation has every right to stand for and as what it is, to recognize its heritage, and to declare those facts, without question. 

Judicium Dei, Latin used in old English and European law as defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as being trials by the cross or trials of battle and states:

“…it being supposed that the interposition of heaven was directly manifest, in these cases, in behalf of the innocent.”

Mr. Newdow lives in a country where he has a choice.  He should be thankful that he does.  Reasonable men of opposing views are.  But, I must say, after looking at the history of this issue and the corresponding rift between atheist entities and the Bush family, I am skeptical of his intentions.  Just the mere hint of a hidden political agenda has dashed consideration of Newdow’s credibility for me.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Mr. Newdow has used his child to gain fame, practice in the Supreme Court, and quite possibly, as an instrument of attack for a political agenda.  The high court can wrestle with this along with all those who choose battles over the Establishment Clause, but I say to this man and his claims of upholding the Constitution of the United States in the best interest of his child - ‘Horsefeathers’.


(1)     Excerpts from the District Court Decision:  Sherman v. Community Consolidated School District 21 of Wheeling Township (1991)

(2)      Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow