Pledging Allegiance.

Author:Sawyer, Steven P.
Position::Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In "Saving the Pledge" (January), Vincent Phillip Munoz laments the Pledge Protection Act, which removes the Pledge of Allegiance from Supreme Court jurisdiction, and recommends instead that conservatives pursue a Supreme Court decision favoring the "under God" language of the Pledge. Professor Munoz is worried that state courts will otherwise reject it. But given that Congress has "plenary authority" and that the Supreme Court cannot be trusted (yet) on this issue, why not leave it to Congress (with executive branch help if necessary) to state plainly the position of the federal government in favor of "under God"? Not being a legal scholar, I don't know if this means pursuing a constitutional amendment or whether it can be done by some simpler tactic. But I think it makes sense to bypass the High Court if possible.

Steven P. Sawyer

Fountain Hills, Arizona

I substantially agree with Vincent Phillip Munoz's point. If you want to defend the wording of the Pledge as it is, stripping the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over Pledge cases is not a good way to do so. But I think Professor Munoz's argument overlooks several important distinctions that are relevant to the topic of First Amendment jurisprudence.

First, Prof. Munoz fails to distinguish between (what I would call) religious and theological uses of the term "God." A religious use of the term is an invocation of God--calling upon God, or talking to God. A theological use of the term is not an invocation of God, but a reference to God--not talking to God, but talking about God. In his article, however, Munoz seems to suppose that every use of the term "God" is religious.

Second, within the realm of theological uses of the term "God," the article does not distinguish between talking about supernatural truths and talking about natural truths. The Catholic tradition makes a clear distinction between those (natural) truths that can be known on the basis of reason alone and those (supernatural) truths that must be revealed if they are to be known. In the Catholic tradition, many references to God fall within the...

To continue reading