- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2013

This week, the highest court in Massachusetts will hear the argument of an atheist couple who think the Pledge of Allegiance — especially with its mention of “under God” — violates students’ rights, and court experts say the outcome will reverberate around the nation.

Religion News Services reported that the Supreme Judicial Court is set to hear Doe v. Action-Boxborough Regional School District on Wednesday and determine shortly afterward whether the Pledge of Allegiance can be recited in public schools.

The atheist couple is remaining anonymous in their suit. The suit deviates a bit from prior challenges to the “under God” phrase and instead focuses on whether recitation that’s compulsory is against state equal rights laws. Religion News Services called the suit a thinly disguised legal maneuver aimed at abolishing the pledge out of objection to the “under God” phrase by using an indirect argument that’s proved successful in a previous case.

The case is being watch around the nation.

The school already has won round one, when a lower court in 2012 ruled that reciting the pledge was not a violation of the state constitution. Oral arguments on Wednesday will speak directly to that ruling, Fox News reported.

A court ruling in favor of the atheists would only open the floodgates for similar Pledge of Allegiance challenges around the nation, said one attorney representing the defendants, from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

“You would then see a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country,” said deputy general counsel, Eric Rassbach, in Fox News. “A win for us would completely avoid that unnecessary harm. And it would affirm that it is not discriminatory to have the words ‘under God’ in the pledge.”