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For Immediate Release
July 31, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

50 ATTORNEYS GENERAL CALL FOR RECONSIDERATION OF PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE DECISION

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that the attorneys general of 48 states, including Maryland, and two territories have called upon the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a controversial decision in which a panel of three judges declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.

In a letter to the Clerk of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the attorneys general voiced support for the State of California’s request for reconsideration. "We offer this letter of support to memorialize our conviction that the decision entered in this case is legally flawed and the matter should be reheard by an en banc panel," the 50 attorneys general wrote.

"The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court was both extremely unpopular and flat out wrong," Attorney General Curran said. "The Establishment Clause was written because our founding fathers did not want the United States government to adopt an official church. The Pledge of Allegiance most certainly does not violate that concern."

The 50 attorneys general noted that, without specifically deciding the issue, the United States Supreme Court commented on the Pledge of Allegiance’s reference to God in a 1989 case, County of Allegheny v. ACLU. "Our previous opinions have considered in dicta the motto and the pledge," the Supreme Court wrote, "characterizing them as consistent with the proposition that government may not communicate an endorsement of religious belief."

"This statement deserves careful attention," the attorneys general wrote. "It explicitly mentions the pledge of allegiance and comments favorably upon its application to the Establishment Clause. Moreover, it reflects an accurate reading of Supreme Court decisions that should provide the framework for an analysis of the issue before this court."

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