Monday, March 15, 2010

A New Type of Lawsuit Against 'Under God'

I would like to propose research into a new type of lawsuit against 'under God' and 'In God We Trust' - one that does not allow people to bury the real issues behind irrelevant details.

Any atheist who is an American citizen would be able to initiate this lawsuit.

The lawsuit would challenge that 'under God' and 'In God We Trust' promotes an attitude of public hostility towards atheists that diminishes the degree to which their options in public society. Specifically, it serves as a filter to keep atheists out of public office, and promotes bigoted attitudes towards atheists that costs them economically and socially.

This lawsuit would not be filed by somebody having children in the public school. It would not be about the specific practice of having people stand to recite the Pledge. It is about the government adopting a specific policy of promoting an attitude of hostility towards a group of citizens based on beliefs about God that filters atheists out of public office and positions of public trust and alienates them from their communities.

The evidence for this can be found in the fact that there is only one openly atheist member of Congress and few, if any, on the state or local level.

It is found in the fact that politicians use being an atheist or associating with atheists as a mark of condemnation against their opponents. Evidence is found in a President's claim that he will only appoint judges who acknowledge that our rights comes from God.

It is found in the fact that surveys show that atheists are the least trusted group in America and routinely identified as the group that are least likely to hold American values. They are seen as poor citizens and poor leaders, harassed in America and in public jobs.

The question of standing could be addressed by asking about relevantly similar situations.

"Would the court deny standing to an African American who rose to challenge an amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance that changed to the wording to, 'One White Nation'? Or would it deny standing to a Jew who came to the court to protest a change in wording so that children were being strongly encouraged to pledge allegiance to a nation without Jews."

One response to this would be to hold that such decisions are the proper scope of the legislature. Yet, the very nature of the protest is that the function (and purpose) of 'under God' and 'In God We Trust' is to render atheists politically impotent. By declaring atheists to be un-American, these policies not only declare that atheists are unfit for public office. It advises and encourages the American voters to reject the political views of atheists. As such, an appeal to the legislature is severely crippled.

Again, I ask the question of whether the courts would deny an African American standing to challenge a pledge of allegiance to One White Nation. Particularly if it were the case that every elected official in government but one was white or at least pretending to be white.

The last time this issue came to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested that the unanimity of the resolutions supporting 'under God' in the Pledge provided support to the fact that it was constitutional.

Yet, we could ask the question - if the right type of lawsuit were filed - whether the Court would give weight to the fact that an all-White Congress unanimously gave approval to a resolution supporting a pledge of allegiance to 'one White Nation'?

The courts, as a matter of policy, do not deal with hypothetical cases. However, there is nothing to prevent the people themselves from discussing these types of questions and their relevance to the current Pledge of Allegiance.

I think it would do the country a lot of good to have that particular debate and get the issue out from behind the smoke screen of irrelevancies that currently cloud this issue.


Sabio Lantz said...

Fantastic Idea
Are you initiating this?
Do you need signatures or what?

Emu Sam said...

To implement this, first one would spread awareness. Post about it on other blogs and talk about it in clubs, in local council meetings, in letters to the editor and letters to leaders of major organizations.

Meanwhile, consult a lawyer or multiple lawyers and refine the strategy. At the same time, consult an advertising agency. Do not rely on the law alone, because the law can be changed. Even the Constitution can be amended. Public opinion must be swayed at the same time. Do not rely only on your own common sense, because the experts will always be more skilled and knowledgeable. You might even talk to the experts you've already hired about additional subjects you might need an expert on. Hire experts. Raise money to hire more experts and fund their activities on our behalf.

Spreading a signature petition is one way to spread awareness. A petition on its own is not much. Back it up with action and support. Talk around both those who support you and those who do not (those who actively oppose you may be only valuable as practice or for those listening in).

Doug S. said...

Suppose the court's answer was "Yes, we would deny standing to a black person in an analogous situation" - because, as I understand the law (IANAL), they would indeed deny standing.

What next?