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Ashcroft, Hatch reactions to denial of rehearing in Pledge of Allegiance case

[JURIST] Attorney General John Ashcroft and Senate Judiciary Committee Orrin Hatch both issued statements Friday reacting to the decision of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals noted earlier today on JURIST [JURIST report] not to rehear en banc a case in which the court had held that school recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance offended the Establishment Clause.

The Attorney General fell just short [press release] of announcing that his Department would take the issue of the Pledge's constitutionality all the way to the Supreme Court:

For centuries our nation has referenced God as we have expressed our patriotism and national identity in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, national anthem, on our coins, and in the Gettysburg Address. The Supreme Court of the United States opens each session by saying, 'God save this honorable Court.' The Justice Department will spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag. We will defend the ability of Americans to declare their patriotism through the time-honored tradition of voluntarily reciting the Pledge.
Senator Hatch set his comments in the context of his immediate legal and political concerns as Judiciary Committee Chairman and principal Senate sponsor of DC Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada:
This case further places the Ninth Circuit out of the main stream of both American law and culture. It clearly demonstrates why the Supreme Court overturns this Circuit’s opinions more frequently than any other Circuit. This decision creates a split among the Circuits as the 7th Circuit has appropriately ruled previously that the pledge does not violate the Constitution. I expect the Supreme Court will review this case....

Clearly, this court’s outrageous decision demonstrates the importance of nominating and confirming qualified and learned judges who understand the role of the law and will not legislate from the bench. President Bush has done his job and has nominated fine judges. I once again call upon the Senate to confirm the President Bush’s highly qualified nominees, and to end their unconstitutional attempts to deny the Senate’s right to give its consent.
Read Senator Hatch's full press release.

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