What is the Pledge Protection Act?
The Pledge Protection Act was a bill that was introduced to Congress in order to try and stop the Federal courts and the Supreme Court form having jurisdiction over the cases that challenged the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and the way the Pledge is recited.
The bill was introduced the Congress four times, but it never passed. Other legal actions since 2007 have tried to observe a moment of silence in schools as the constitutionality of the Pledge has deteriorated, but some parties have even challenged the constitutionality of a moment of silence.
Why did the Pledge Protection Act Start?
The Act was introduced in Congress about two years after the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California heard Newdow v. Elk Grove Unified School District. During this case, Michael Newdow filed a case on behalf of his daughter the challenged the constitutionality of the Pledge and the “One Nation, Under God” phrase.
The Court ruled that the Pledge was constitutional, but the Newdow appealed the case and it was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Pledge Protection Act was simultaneously trying to make its way through Congress, the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Michael Newdow could not bring a suit on behalf of this daughter because the girl’s mother was granted sole custody.
The Court dismissed the case and refused to consider the constitutionality of the Pledge. A separate case was later filed concerning the same matter, but a lower court upheld the constitutionality of the Pledge.
History of the Pledge Protection Act
The bill was introduced by Representative Todd Akin several different times. The bill was passed by the House several times, but it was never signed by the Senate.
It was first introduced to the 107th Congress on July 8, 2002. After it was submitted to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, it quickly died. The Subcommittee stated that Congress had no jurisdiction to hear such a case.
The second bill was introduced to the 108th Congress on May 8, 2003. The bill attempted to end the authority of the Supreme Court to hear cases about the Pledge during appellate action. The bill was passed to the Senate, but it was not passed.
The third bill was introduced to the 109th Congress on May 17, 2005. The bill was the same as the one introduced in 2003 with only several minor adjustments. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives, but no action was taken by Senate. The same bill was submitted to the 110th Congress on January 29, 2007. The House Subcommittees on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties all received the bill, but no action was taken by either subcommittee.
Pledge Protection Act: Conclusion
Opponents of the Act stated that the Act tried to limit the Establishment Clause in the Constitution. The debate goes on over the separation of church and state in public schools, and many schools have begun to observe a moment of silence instead of the Pledge at the beginning of the school day.