WASHINGTON A federal judge has rejected a challenge to chaplains in Congress, in a lawsuit filed by the same man who wants the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.
U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. on March 24 rejected Michael Newdow's claim that taxpayer-funded chaplains in Congress violate the First Amendment establishment-clause ban on government-sponsored religion.
Kennedy, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, released his decision in Newdow v. Eagan the same day Newdow was at the Supreme Court arguing that the Pledge of Allegiance, with its religious reference, is an unconstitutional government promotion of religion in his daughter's third-grade classroom. The Supreme Court ruling in that case, Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow, is expected by July.
Newdow, an atheist who lives in Sacramento, Calif., had raised the issue of House and Senate chaplains in a 2002 lawsuit against Congress. He sought to have the jobs abolished.