WASHINGTON, June 16, 2011 ( – The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. The decision ends a seven-year battle over the Pledge’s inclusion of the words “under God,” involving two separate cases, one originating in California and the other in New Hampshire. 

The cases were brought forward by atheist Michael Newdow.

“Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court has again rejected the argument that saying the Pledge of your own free will creates an official state religion,” said attorney Eric Rassbach, litigation director at the Becket Fund, which defended the Pledge in court as an intervener.

The Ninth Circuit in California upheld the constitutionality of the Pledge in March 2010 and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the California case in March 2011.  The First Circuit then upheld the constitutionality of the Pledge in November 2011 and the Supreme Court denied certiorari in that case earlier this week.

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, which also played a role as “defendant intervener” in the cases, pointed out that his organization was “instrumental” in getting the words “under God” added to the pledge in 1954.

Those words “express a fundamental belief that we have held as a nation since our founding, that we ‘are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights,’” he said. “The notion that this somehow violates the First Amendment has now been soundly rejected by both the First and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court has now allowed both decisions to stand.  It is a victory for common sense.”