The failed legal battle to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance recited daily in the Matawan-Aberdeen, N.J., school district is over, the district’s attorney said.
The 45-day time frame for the American Humanist Association to file an appeal of a Monmouth County Superior Court judge’s decision dismissing the association’s lawsuit has expired without an appeal being filed, said David Rubin, the school district’s attorney.
“The time for the filing of an appeal has passed, and no appeal has been filed, so this case is over,” said Rubin, who defended the school district’s right to keep the words “under God” in the pledge recited daily in its middle school, high school and five elementary schools.
Merrill Miller, spokeswoman for the American Humanist Association, confirmed that.
“No, we are not filing an appeal,” she said.
The American Humanist Association, an organization that works to protect the rights of atheists and other non-religious groups, filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of an unnamed family with a child in the school system. The lawsuit claimed that the practice of acknowledging God in the pledge discriminated against atheists, in violation of New Jersey’s constitution. Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman in February ruled that it did not, after the school district went to court to get the lawsuit dismissed.
Rubin said he had expected an appeal of Bauman’s decision.
“We are pleasantly surprised,” he said. “We had anticipated this group intended to make a test case out of this and send it up the appellate ladder.”
Rubin had argued in court last year that the school district was merely following a state law that requires recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the state’s public schools. He also argued the law does not violate the constitution because it does not require individual students to participate in reciting the pledge.
The American Humanist Association’s attorney, David Niose, argued that the requirement to recite the pledge is “divisive” in that it paints those who choose not to participate or say the words “under God” as second-class citizens.
Bauman, in his written opinion, noted the nation was founded on a belief in God.
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SOURCE: USA Today
Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press