Pledge of Allegiance vs. the Establishment Clause

For Immediate Release
Contact: Janice Rael
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Pledge of Allegiance vs. the Establishment Clause

Noted attorney to provide an update three years after a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court

Attorney Paul Grosswald will present an update of one of the most controversial Establishment Clause cases ever to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that nearly overturned the common public school practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Grosswald, whose work was ultimately cited in the Supreme Court decision, will update the audience on new Pledge of Allegiance decisions that have been handed down since 2004. He will speak on Sept. 23, 7:00 pm, at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St. in the Skyline Room.

In 2004, Grosswald became involved in the case of Michael Newdow, an atheist who had sued his daughter’s school district, which had a policy requiring the school to lead students in a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Newdow sued the school district on the grounds that such a policy violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the Pledge contains the phrase “Under God.”

Grosswald entered the case early in 2004, when he co-authored a Friend of the Court Brief on behalf of a coalition of Buddhist organizations, with a combined membership of over 300,000 people. Ultimately, the Court ruled against Newdow on custody issues without addressing the “Under God” issue. Nevertheless, three Justices issued concurring opinions that squarely addressed the constitutionality of the school district’s Pledge policy. One of those opinions, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, cited Grosswald’s brief.

On Sept. 23 Grosswald will provide an update on new Pledge of Allegiance decisions that have been handed down since 2004 and discuss future strategies. Is it wise for Newdow to continue bringing separation cases that are likely to be lost in front of the current Supreme Court? Or would it be better if he waited until the makeup of the Court changes?

Paul S. Grosswald graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School in 2001. He specializes in employment discrimination and civil rights cases. He is admitted in New York and New Jersey, and in numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.

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