Pledge of Allegiance: Origin and Evolution - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-11-30
Pledge of Allegiance: Origin and Evolution - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Law Court system
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1018 words
9 min read


The Pledge of Allegiance was composed as an expression of allegiance to the United States and the Republic of the United States of America. The allegiance currently used has the phrase "under God" added to it, making it different from the original one (Martin et al. 1). The pledge of allegiance goes, " I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'. When reciting the allegiance, every person is expected to be at attention while facing the flag and with their right hand placed over the heart. Government meetings and congressional sessions open with a recitation of the pledge (Martin et al. 1). Public schools also begin their first class of the day by reciting the pledge. Despite being considered a patriotic exercise, the pledge has attracted a great deal of controversy from the clause "under God." This essay discusses into detail two legal challenges to the pledge of allegiance, stating critical points derived from the cases. It further explains the decisions made by the Supreme Court regarding the circumstances.

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Legal Challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance

On March 24, 2004, Michael Newdow argued a case against the pledge of allegiance. The case was termed Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow. At that time, Michael had a daughter attending a public school in Elk Grove. School days at Elk Grove began by teachers leading the students to recap the Pledge of Allegiance (Meng, 2). Reciting the pledge was supposed to be a voluntary act. According to Newdow, having students listen to the allegiance despite not choosing to participate violates the Constitution's establishment clause. He based his argument on the phrase under God.

Further, Jane Doe and John Doe challenged the practice of reciting the pledge every morning in public schools of the town of Acton and Acton-Boxborough regional school district. The case was termed Jane Doe v. Acton- Boxborough Regional School District. The plaintiffs alleged that the recitation violated their rights, as stated in the Massachusetts Constitution (Logan, 3). Doe further claimed that the allegiance's recitation marginalizes children and family and prejudices against atheists and Humanists. To Jane and John, a sense of fitting is vital to the children, and it is a psychological need. Doe argues that the daily recitation of the pledge in schools marginalizes other children-the atheists and humanists.

From the two legal challenges, it is noticeable that the clause "one nation under God" is the root of all the controversies. Before, nobody had an issue with the pledge until the addition of the word under God. The argument is from the atheists and humanists who do not believe in a supernatural being.

Supreme Court Decisions

The challenges made by Newdow did not bear any fruit. First, the district court dismissed the case based on the lack of standing (Meng, 2). The court was right to make such a conclusion because, at the time of the case, Newdow and the mother of his daughter were divorced, rendering him no custody over the daughter. According to Meng, domestic relations do affect the outcome of legal cases (2). The court has to restrain from making judgments based on the domestic relations but the federal constitutional law. Newdow's further appeal did not go through as the Supreme Court failed to reach the constitutional questions.

On the Jane Doe case, the state court rejected the attack on the allegiance. The reference to God in the pledge is not a religious one but an act of patriotism. The clause one nation under God reminds people that their rights cannot be taken away from them but by a source beyond everyone's control. The pledge neither violates atheists and humanists' rights nor marginalizes their children and family, making the judgment valid (Logan, 3).

Importance of Pledge of Allegiance

Most people do recite the pledge blindly without any deep understanding of its meaning. Reciting the pledge shows how patriotic to the country a person is, and the action is never a compulsion (Benus et al. 4). It is a symbol of loyalty and shows how happy one is to be associated with a given country. Moreover, it communicates unity within a country, and with an agreement, greatness is achieved. A nation needs to stand and work together for the benefit of the whole country. A country's excellence is not achieved by a single effort but by people coming together and working towards it.

The best way to educate a kid is through repetition hence the need for schools to do a daily recitation of the pledge. The daily act stirs curiosity to the children, who will then want to get a deeper meaning of the allegiance (Benus et al. 4). In the process of understanding the pledge, a feeling of patriotism is inculcated onto children at an early age. Due to the Pledge of Allegiance's importance, schools should indulge themselves in a daily recitation of the pledge.


In conclusion, the debate regarding the Pledge of Allegiance's recitation should be a thing of the past. Even though the word 'under God' is objectionable, every person needs to recite the pledge and respect the country. Schools, public or private, should also do a daily recitation. However, every person has the freedom to recite the pledge or not.


Martin, L. A., Lauzon, G. P., Benus, M. J., & Livas Jr, P. 2017. The United States Pledge of Allegiance Ceremony: Do Youth Recite the Pledge?. SAGE Open, 7(1), 2158244017701528,

Meng, K. A., 2004. In Light of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, Where Does the Court Stand on Standing. Widener LJ, 14, 1021,

Logan, M. J., 2013. One nation, under God-Excluding Atheists, with Liberty and Justice for All: A New Approach to a Historic Conflict Reaches the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts: Doe v. Acton-Borough Regional School District. Rutgers JL & Religion, 15, 540,

Bonus, M. J., Martin, L. A., & Lauzon, G. P., 2016. Does Pledging Allegiance to the Flag Have Educational Value?. Schools.

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