"Although the words 'under God' undeniably have a religious tinge, courts that have considered the history of the pledge and the presence of those words have consistently concluded that the pledge, notwithstanding its reference to God, is a fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one." (Source)
And with these incongruous words, the highest court in Massachusetts issued a ruling which, by its own admission, denied the undeniably religious words 'Under God' are, in fact, religious. Because, having considered and notwithstanding the religious aspect-- which is unlawful-- it's not religion at all. It's "history".
This continues the ongoing and increasingly popular strategy used by judges and legislators of the religious right: substitute "history" (or rather a mythologized version of history) for legal analysis as a means to shelter Christian shrines and observations on public property. By declaring that religion is "history" and thus entirely secular, it becomes permissible. "History" can be an event as recent as 14 years ago.
Other recent examples include...
1. The Roberts Supreme Court ruled that officials in Greece, New York may jabber Christian prayers at city hall on government property, on grounds that such prayers are "history", not religion.
2. The Oklahoma State Capital's Ten Commandments monument: “The only reason why the Ten Commandments qualified is because at the Capitol, what we do is we make laws. We are lawmakers. Well, one of the earliest laws we have are the Ten Commandments. So therefore, it has historical significance.”
3. The Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capital: "The Chief Justice [Roberts], Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Thomas, concluded that the Establishment Clause allows the display of a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the Texas State Capitol grounds. Reconciling the strong role played by religion and religious traditions throughout our Nation's history..."
4. The statue of Jesus erected on federal land at Whitefish Mountain: For many, [Judge] Christensen said, the statue is mostly “a historical reminder of those bygone days of sack lunches, ungroomed runs, rope tows, T-bars, leather ski boots and 210 cm. skis.”
5. The Christian Cross of Ground Zero : "Federal Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that display of the beams is permissible because they bear historical importance."
Thus equipped with such "reason", legislative bodies and courts packed with Christians are excluding shrines to Islam, Hinduism and Satan, and a monument to the 500 irreligious who died in the 9/11 attacks. Also excluded: the irreligious wishing to petition the prayerful at City Hall and the Humanist kids who want to participate in the daily patriotic exercise at their public schools. But Christian religious shrines and observances, being included in the government-backed in-crowd, may proceed unchecked.
That's how it works. Judges rubber stamp the whitewashing of the Constitution and grant "history" its special, privileged place. Every group that isn't part of "history": sit down and shut up. You're excluded.
Anyone care to wager on whether "history" will repeat itself in New Jersey too?
GM, I read the pdf and hope its conclusions find support in law schools and in the courts.
A study about ten years ago (I don't have a link to it) concluded that SCOTUS is now more conservative than at any time in American history.
As to my remark about delusions that some of us here share with xians:
I will bet a few dollars (a big bet for me) that most of us agree that religion is a delusion.
I won't bet a like amount that we here agree that emotion influences our behavior more than reason.
In a retirement community (partly paid for by taxpayers for war veterans) where I've lived for twenty years, I occasionally meet and chat with retired college and university professors. When context allows, I enjoy describing faculty senate meetings as hotbeds of passion. I enjoy mischief-making in general.
In one chat I had with a still-active professor while travelling by air, he told me of his commitment to pragmatism. I regard myself a pragmatist but his enthusiasm for it set off an alarm.
I'd been studying sociopathy for a while and opined that pragmatism at its outer limits resembles sociopathy and its lack of empathy.
He said no more for the rest of the flight and I concluded that my remark had ended our chat. I once believed (and would have bet) that reason prevails over emotion but several years in hardball politics ended my innocence.
BTW, if you happen across Federal Appellate Court Judge (and law professor) Richard Posner's early 1990s book Sex and Reason, you'll see mischief making by a Reagan appointee.
He achieved fame in the Law and Economics field and the early pages tell why he wanted to give his fellow jurists an education in sexuality.
The Supreme Court has ruled, voting along party lines, that irreligious and non-Christians are de facto second class citizens at City Hall. Stop voting for conservative Republicans who will appoint and confirm conservative Republican judges at a federal level. Do that and in time the judicial bias will swing back in our direction, at least on a federal level, regarding religion.
I suspect you're preaching to the choir here.
You're right in that it's virtually asking the impossible to expect justices to vote contrary to their own values, even when interpreting the plain words of the Constitution.