Saturday, March 27, 2004
CWCID: Brendan, at The Facts Machine
On a separate but Pledge-related note, my classmate Chris Eisgruber has filed an amicus brief in the case currently pending before the Supreme Court. I think he's on to a very useful solution that I hope the Court adopts:
Eisgruber and Sager, experts in religious liberty and constitutional law, believe the Constitution allows for the incorporation of religious elements in public ceremonies....
To protect the constitutionality of the phrase "under God," Eisgruber proposed creating an alternate, secular and nonsectarian alternative to the pledge which could be used by those uncomfortable with the pledge as it now stands.
"It's okay to have the words 'under God,'" Eisgruber said, so long as the government provides an officially recognized secular alternative to the religious version.
"We try to have a secular government that accommodates religious faith," he said.
Two possibilities have been suggested by Eisgruber and Sager. First, they say, the secular form of the pledge could omit the phrase "under God." Also, they believe other appropriate phrases could be substituted on an individual basis.
That is, keep the Pledge as it is, but require that there be an officially recognized alternative that omits "under God" or, if preserving the cadence is important, inserts two laudable syllables in its place (the word "equal" might do very well in that spot).
The left and the right are both trying to use the Pledge case to extract from the federal judiciary a determination that we are, as a nation, either secular or "under God." We should not let either side use the courts in this silly way. Rather, we should admit that the United States is both a secular country and under God. How could it be otherwise? The Eisgruber compromise shows us -- and the Court -- how to compromise on the Pledge while protecting any right that is worth protecting.