Law Essay Sample on the Case Elk Grove Unified School Dist. V. Newdow

Published: 2020-02-21
Law Essay Sample on the Case Elk Grove Unified School Dist. V. Newdow
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Law
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1713 words
15 min read

Facts of the Case

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This case involves Michael Newdow's child attending Elk Grove unified school district in California. The school has a routine where the students voluntarily recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag that includes Under God added by the Congressional act of 1954. Newdow sued the federal district court in California arguing the students listen to, and even when they choose to participate in the words Under God violates the first amendment clause in the constitution of the U.S.

The District Court dismissed the complaint because of a lack of standing. Newdow was divorced from the mother of his daughter where he was not the custodian of the child. However, the U.S Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the holding, as he was eligible for the standing hindered him from the right to direct the religious education of his biological daughter. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal discerned that Under God violated the first amendments establishing clause by adding the words.

Newdow argues that the daughter is not forced but injured by watching and listening to her classmates recite the pledge of allegiance with the included words and that the nation is Under God whereas that is not what he wants her to grow up acknowledging. He pursued injunctive and declaratory relief but did not seek damages for the dismissal of the case at the district court.

Summary of the Argument

The ninth circuit judgment was removed and the matter remanded with instruction from the district court for dismissal since they lacked the jurisdiction over the claims presented by Newdow. As a non-custodian of the daughter with no decision-making authority over the daughters education, Newdow had no standing according to Article III. The injury inflicted was not distinct and palpable as required by the court precedents. He suffered no invasion of any legally protectable interest in the child. Upon learning the legal relationship of the plaintiff, the court asserted that the only right he had been only to shield the child from the public schools religious views that vary from the ones he is trying to instill in the daughter.

A right of such scale has exquisite implications for the impending relationship between the national judiciary and community education. The Ninth Circuits ruling reassures dissatisfied parents whose religious approaches are equally offended by what their children are imparted in public schools to obstruct federal court dockets with a lawsuit. The ruling was based on the ramifications of barring every religious material to students, which would create greater impact and like a choral taught to the children as a recital piece so was the pledge of allegiance since it is an acclamation of patriotism and not a religious imposition to the children. Therefore, the case was dismissed, as it would have created a great controversy in the entire nation giving the humanistic associations to petition on numerous invocations made by the public and the government.

Levels of Court the Case Evolved

The case was first filed in the district court where the plaintiff was not allowed to contest the case, as he was not the constitutional guardian of the daughter. The case was reversed by the ninth circuit court holding that the plaintiff was legible for the petition. Sandra, the mother of the child, filed a motion declaring she was the exclusive custodian of the child and felt the child should be excluded in the lawsuit filed by Newdow. The initial petition was ruled that; Even when the respondent has been a devoted parent to the daughter the standing to bring the child to court and the case was challenged. If standing is dignified by the grievance to the plaintiff, and if the Court identifies that parents are fully committed to their childrens lives and schooling are injured when their children are indoctrinated with religious belief in the public schools, then this parent has standing to any other. The Ninth Circuit panel reviewed and applied California state law, and unanimously determined that standing exists. This Court has no need to disturb that correct determination.

Conversely, the court asserted that Newdow retains the right to expose his child to his particular religious views. He was also viable in making sure the child is not in any harm as a parent. The case had gone through two courts before the judgment was passed.

Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. However, the judge agreed to the outcome declaring that Michael has a right to monitor the welfare of his daughter. The decision was clear in that it depicted that the Congress does not interfere with any individual right to exercise or not exercise religion. In fact, the injury inflicted on the child was psychological at a historical fact that has been in existence for decades. Therefore, it does not suffice to confer Article III standings. Recitation of the pledge in the school is consistent with the establishment clause of the first amendment to the U.S Constitution. The words only echo the conviction of the founding fathers of the nation and that the freedoms came from God. The insertion of the words was to differentiate the nation from those that do not recognize any power apart from the government.

Impact on the Public

The case is a complicated social issue that makes it hard to give the atheist families an equal ground. If they are given the right to shield their children from the mention of God, the courts will become busy. They would have the power to challenge numerous acknowledgments of religion because they interfere with the right to expose their kids to their dutiful views. Conversely, the religious majority would have to complain that the government is imposing the secular humanism or philosophies that attempt to explain the meaning of life without the inclusion of God (Murray, 2007). Therefore, the impact of the case is generally balanced at every level by the fact that every parent is required to guide their children in the ways they feel right and the government will keep the core of its founding through preservation of the principles placed by the founding fathers.

It conveys a new dimension of application of religious views as the law permits the entire country to express themselves in the ways they deem wise. The rulings affected, the ways people view the atheist population making them bear with the core values of the constitution. The use of the legislative prayer in the Congress is also impacted. The ruling also inflicts bias on the atheist community. The pledges part about America being One Nation under God does not give the atheist a place to fit in. They feel the nation is a collection of different people with their own opinions, which gives them the right to function independently according to the law that protects them. These words do not make any sense to the people who are not patriotically inclined to the nation hence they feel violated (Murray, 2007).

As a common connector, the Pledge of Allegiance has to make sure the entire state is included in the piece. The pledge is a social issue sparks controversy since the citizens begin to look deeper into the author who initially did not include the two words when writing. The emission of the words makes sure the entire state is included in the recitation. In a country with all kinds of people with different practices, the social structure is instinctive and scrutinizing finding ways to fit in is a big deal. The only considerable thing the public can do is to sit down with all parties and decide the natural and right way to include everyone in the pledge. They should first teach the state the meaning of the pledge of allegiance then they can make the people recite with a common ground. Otherwise, the entire nation will always be on the hotspot trying to fit in every individual in the constitution.

Recitation of the Pledge in Schools

To some students, it is an honored American convention while others find it a pressing customary. When isolating individual thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance, it is a voluntary practice where one is allowed to practice or decide not to partake the ritual (Westheimer, 2007). In many states, it is a requirement that makes the students and teachers feel proud being born American.

In some cases, there are prejudiced practices from people who feel offended when a student does not recite the pledge of allegiance. Constitutionally, the pledge was made optional and any student has the right to refuse recitation as all public schools are barred from forcing any individual in reciting the pledge. The court has accredited students right to freedom of thought and expression in the First Amendment in 1943 (Murray, 2007). The statute that declared that the students needed to make sure they have to recite the pledge was struck down as it violated the individual right and authority given to schools. The court already established that Pledge oration is a form of communication because it symbolizes the statement of ideas and sentiments about our administration and republic.

As such, there was a legitimate integral problem with the state adjusting access to public training on the recitation of a pledge touching on individual outlook and personal assertiveness. Therefore, if a public school has made it a routine, the students have the right to participate or not in the recitation. Since the right to recite or not the pledge flows in part of the first amendment of the U.S constitution, the students can sue the individuals imposing on them to recite it under the law that prohibit the state and employees from infringing on federal constitutional right (Westheimer, 2007). When found guilty, a penalty is inflicted on them and they would pay damages costs and attorney fees. My opinion on the recitation of the pledge is grounded on the individual reflection of the purpose of the pledge.


ELK GROVE UNIFIED SCHOOL DIST. V. NEWDOW (02-1624) 542 U.S. 1 (2004) 328 F.3d 466, reversed., W. J. (2007). The pledge: One nation under God. Chattanooga, Tenn: Living Ink Books.

Westheimer, J. (2007). Pledging allegiance: The politics of patriotism in America's schools. New York, NY [u.a.: Teachers College Press.

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