updated 9/16/2005 12:00:44 PM ET 2005-09-16T16:00:44

As though it were planned to be this way, the Ninth Circuit Court issued a ruling on Michael Newdow's latest attempt to strike "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.  He won the case, and the phrase has been ruled unconstitutional as it violates the separation of Church and State.

What a perfect coup for supporters of Judge John Roberts.

The ruling isn't very popular with most bloggers, and not at all popular with Americans in general.

At the blog Volokh Conspiracy, a flashback to a poll from 2002 when this same court ruled in favor of Michael Newdow.  At that point, 84 percent of Americans opposed the ruling and 89 percent wanted the phrase "under God" to remain in the pledge.

That being said, in 2003 the Supreme Court refused to rule on the constitutionality of the phrase.  Scotus Blog is pointing out that the court declined to rule because Newdow "lacked standing"--he wasn't his daughter's custodial parent.

So, he's brought the case again on behalf of other parents, and this time we may very well see a Supreme Court ruling.

Over at Talk Left, one of Jeralyn Merritt's readers is pointing out that in the 2003 decision, only Justice O'Connor and Justice Thomas joined the concurring opinion.  No word from Justice Kennedy on where he stands.  In other words, we may have a situation where--if the case comes again--the phrase could be ruled unconstitutional.

Empire Journal today is saying that this is why these confirmation hearings for judge John Roberts are so important.  This website is run by Jay Sekulow's team, a conservative legal action group, and they are hoping that Roberts gets confirmed and another conservative is appointed before the case comes up again.

When we look at how the Court has viewed this blend of religion and politics in the past, its nearly impossible to read the tea leaves.  The blog Change of Subject at The Chicago Tribune site has some great background.  In 1984 in a similar case, Justice William Brennan said in his opinion that the words "under God" have basically lost any religious significance because of repetition.  We so used to hearing it that it means nothing.

But in 1962 Justice Hugo Black wrote that the union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.

Bloggers are looking at the big picture on this ruling and getting ready for Michael Newdow's next day in court.

On the show today: We are keeping an eye on Hurricane Ophelia, and we'll be joined by two members of Congress to discuss what Katrina has revelaed about our nation's disaster preparedness--or lack thereof.  And we look ahead to the President's primetime speech tonight.

Links:
Volokh
SCOTUS Blog
Talk Left
Empire Journal
Chicago Tribune -  Change of Subject

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