- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

A Republican appointee was one of three federal appeals court judges who yesterday ruled it is unconstitutional to ask school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and vow loyalty to one nation "under God."

Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, who wrote the 33-page opinion, was appointed to the bench by President Nixon in 1971 and is listed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals records as a senior member of the court.

Judge Goodwin was joined in the 2-1 decision by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who was appointed by President Carter in 1980. Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, who dissented from the ruling, was appointed by President Bush in 1989.

The panel's majority ruled that a 1954 act of Congress adding "under God" to the pledge violated the First Amendment declaration that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" known to legal scholars as the establishment clause.

The judges said the phrase "under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of that clause.

"A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.

Judge Fernandez, the other Republican appointee on the panel, wrote in his dissent that the majority went too far in seeking "to drive all tincture of religion out of the public life of our polity."

"The danger that 'under God' in our Pledge of Allegiance will tend to bring about a theocracy or suppress somebody's beliefs is so minuscule as to be de minimis," Judge Fernandez wrote, adding that the 9th Circuit's decision could imperil such patriotic standards as "God Bless America."

At 78, Judge Goodwin is the oldest of the three-judge panel. He worked as a cowboy before joining the Army in 1942 where he became an infantry captain. He returned to school in 1947 and got his law degree from the University of Oregon in 1951. During the 1960s, he was a military lawyer with the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring from the Army. He also served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of Oregon before being named to the federal appeals court bench in San Francisco in 1971.

His most noteworthy rulings stemmed from cases involving pension or deferred-compensation plans for state employees. A practicing Presbyterian, Judge Goodwin is married and has four children.

Judge Reinhardt, 71, served as an Air Force lieutenant working as a military lawyer for the Office of the General Counsel with the secretary of the Air Force in the early 1950s. After leaving the service, he joined a law firm in Los Angeles where he worked until Mr. Carter appointed him to the 9th Circuit Court bench in 1980.

Before taking the bench, he was a member of the Democratic National Committee. Called a "warhorse of the left" by the National Law Journal, Judge Reinhardt in 1990 blasted a colleague over his dissent in a case dealing with marijuana smoking and wrongful termination.

Judge Fernandez, 65, earned his law degree from the University of Southern California in 1962. In 1964, he joined a private law firm in Pomona, Calif., where he worked until he was appointed to the U.S. District Court of California in 1985. In 1989, he was appointed to the federal appeals court.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide