Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has joined a nationwide effort requesting a panel of federal judges to reconsider a controversial decision that declared the United States Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.
The attorneys general of 48 states and two territories recently sent a letter to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The letter requested reconsideration of the court ruling issued in connection with the Pledge of Allegiance.
"The ruling was wrong and should be overturned," maintained Shurtleff. "We don't need federal judges telling kids they can't say one nation, under God in public schools."
"The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from it," pointed out the Utah attorney general. "The judges should be trying to protect public expression instead of trying to remove any mention of God in public life."
The two to one opinion issued by the federal court ruled that reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because it amounts to a government endorsement of religion.
The federal court decision was placed on hold after intense public outrage surfaced across the U.S. in connection with the decision.
"We offer this letter of support to memorialize our conviction that the decision entered in this case is legally flawed," wrote the 50 attorneys general.
The letter noted that the U.S. Supreme Court commented on the Pledge of Allegiance's reference to God in a 1989 case, County of Allegheny vs. ACLU.
Without specifically deciding the 1989 issue, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that the Pledge and motto were "consistent with the proposition that government may not communicate an endorsement of religious belief."
The attorneys general maintain that the Allegheny ruling should provide the framework for future analysis in matters involving the Pledge of Allegiance.
Other U.S. Supreme Court rulings favor the current pledge, added the Utah attorney general.
"I strongly agree with prior statements by the U.S. Supreme Court that school children and others should be encouraged to express love for our country by reciting documents like the Declaration of Independence and singing patriotic anthems that make reference to faith in a Supreme Being."
In addition to Utah's top legal official, the attorneys general of the following states and territories signed the letter requesting the federal judges to reconsider the decision: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.