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Almighty to Remain in Pledge and Motto

Bush signs bill in wake of a court ruling that references to God violate Constitution.

November 14, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Wednesday signed into law a bill reaffirming -- with a slap at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto.

Bush signed the bill without comment. It reinforces support for the words "under God" in the pledge, and for "In God we trust" as the national motto.

The bill was approved unanimously in the Senate and drew just five no votes in the House. Congress rushed to act after the federal appeals court in California ruled in June that the phrase "under God," inserted into the pledge by Congress in 1954, amounted to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. The legislation faulted the court for its "erroneous rationale" and "absurd result."

The new law also modifies the manner in which the Pledge of Allegiance is to be delivered by stating that, when not in uniform, men should remove any nonreligious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Previously, the standard dictated that "any headdress" be removed.

Those House members voting against the bill, all Democrats, were Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Jim McDermott of Washington, Robert C. Scott of Virginia and two Californians -- Michael M. Honda of San Jose and Pete Stark of Fremont.

At the time, Scott called the bill "totally gratuitous," even though he shared the majority's objections to the court's ruling.

Four House Democrats -- Gary L. Ackerman and Nydia M. Velazquez of New York, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina -- voted present.

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