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America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] Big Trials and Legal Cases
I have heard many times that the father Michael Newdon has used his daughter to advance his causes. I never understood this line of thinking. The mother is Christian. The daughter is Christian. The mother wants the daughter to say the pledge... in school. The daughter wants to say the pledge... in school. The father does not want his daughter in a public school saying a pledge that incorporates the words 'under God'... in school.

Let me clarify what I think should and should not be debated.

We should not debate on this issue whether the words belong in the pledge or how there is a separation of church and State

My question for debate is: What are the merits for the argument that the father is using his daughter by pushing an issue that is against his daughters wishes.
Victoria Silverwolf
Michael Newdow and I are both members of the same organization:

Freedom From Religion Foundation

It will come as no surprise, then, that I support the removal of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

However, I have to say that I think the Supreme Court made a sound decision here. The fact that Newdow does not have full custody of his child raises serious questions about whether he has standing to bring this case. Although I am very sorry that this side issue, utterly irrelevant to the main issue at hand, had to come up, I cannot say that I disagree with the Court on this one. I can only hope that another case will come before the Court in which there is no question of standing.

Here is the FFRF's article about this decision:

Challenge of "God" in Pledge of Allegiance Not Over Yet

The Freedom From Religion Foundation congratulated First Amendment plaintiff Michael Newdow for raising national consciousness about the secular origin of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Foundation emphasized that today's dismissal of his lawsuit by the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the insertion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was on a technicality only. The court decision in no way "blessed" the religious pledge, and leaves the path clear for future litigation.

The Foundation predicts that the courts have not heard the last from the physician/father/attorney and his quest to return the Pledge of Allegiance to a secular status.

"Newdow is absolutely correct in arguing that the Constitution requires neutrality in the public schools. The case law is on his side," noted Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Foundation.

The justices voted 8-0 that Newdow does not (yet) have sufficient custody of his daughter to have standing to sue. (Justice Scalia recused himself upon request of Newdow for prejudging the case.) Newdow is in the midst of a complicated custody battle with his daughter's mother.

The FFRF will give Michael Newdow its annual "Freethought Hero" award later this year. thumbsup.gif
Gray Seal
My first reaction is to ask the question, "Why does he not have equal status to the mother in his relationship to his daughter?". The acceptance that fathers are inferior parents is abysmal.

Children are minors. They are not mature. Parents must make some decisions to protect them. Bringing this case has been an attempt to protect his daughter from religion bias. I can not see the argument that doing a parent's role is deleterious to ones offspring. Indoctrination for or against belief systems should be in the control of parents.

I wonder what the daughter would reply if asked, "Would you mind if the words 'under God' were removed from the pledge?". I expect that minors would accept either version and not have objections to either and would want to say either version, in school, if all their peers were saying it.
Mrs. Pigpen
In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that government schools couldn't force students to recite the Pledge. Schools can ask but not force students to recite it. Therefore, I'm not certain how the father has a case here. Is the daughter traumatized by listening to the words 'under God?'

It would be interesting (and a more compelling case) if the mother was a member of a religious cult, or something, and the daughter was forced to attend the service. I don't see any cause for conflict here. She is free to say the whole pledge, none of the pledge, include the words 'under God', or not. I personally think the concept of having students pledge to a flag every morning is a bit creepy, but I think it's even creepier for a father to be so controlling he would forbid his child to say the words 'under God', when in, or not in, his presence.
What are the merits for the argument that the father is using his daughter by pushing an issue that is against his daughter's wishes.

Is full custody usually taken into consideration in cases like this one? I doubt it. Even if it is it doesn't matter to me. I usually side with parents when it comes to "laying down the law" and watching after their children's wellbeing. In some ways a parent has to let go before 18. This is one of them.

What about the daughter's wishes? Does she have to wait a few more years before she can decide what to believe in and assert those beliefs in court? Are her beliefs less worthy of consideration because she's underage? I'm not dodging your question, droop224, but dragging a kid through a legal battle is as bad as dragging a kid to a Pro-Life protest. If children aren't intellectual and biological property then every parent should not wait until their child is 18 to leave diametric beliefs well enough alone. Kids aren't pawns for our political baggage.
QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Jun 18 2004, 08:34 AM)
My first reaction is to ask the question, "Why does he not have equal status to the mother in his relationship to his daughter?".  The acceptance that fathers are inferior parents is abysmal.

In this case, Dad only has custody for 10 hours per week. Mom has her the rest of the time and didn't want her daughter involved in this controversy. The Court decided that Mom was really the primary care-giver and deserved to have her wishes respected.

As I've said: this was the correct decision for the case, but another case will come along eventually that won't have this technical problem.
Setting aside the "Under God" issue, AS REQUESTED, I'll dive right in.

The problem with the SCOTUS decision lies in its reinforcement of non-custodial parents (90%+ fathers) as nothing more than wallets. If, as noted, the father only has his daughter 5.9% of the time, and by extension of the Court's reasoning, he only has 5.9% parental authority, ergo, insufficient standing to bring the action, why is he legally, upon pain of imprisonment and other penalties, responsible to provide for 50%+ of her upbringing? Radical imbalances of authority and responsibility are one of the hallmarks of slavery.

Now, he IS using his daughter to push his agenda. That is a tragic irony, considering that the mother and the State are using his daughter to enslave him.

(note: elements of this posting constitute a polemic. tongue.gif )

I think you bring up what i want to debate the most, but still it is not getting debated. Why is it considered using your child because you are going over their head?? As far as I know he is not saying that his daughter doesn't want to say the pledge, nor is he dragging her to court making her lie. He is saying "I don't want my daughter hearing this pledge." Again, how is he using his daughter, by saying this??
i think the main problem with his case is what AMF brought up. the mother is the primary care giver and didnt want her daughter involved in this case. so the court respected her wishes.

if there werent custody issues, meaning mother and father were still married and living together, i think he would have a case that the court would have to make a decision on.

i personally think that if one wants to prey, oops, i meant pray, they should go to their church. public schools are not the place for it. wonder what would happen if a student "chose" to yell 'hamberger meat' instead of saying under god. tongue.gif
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