'Under God' Under Fire

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, October 15, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: "Under God" is under fire. 

Last year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (search) in San Francisco agreed with self-described atheist Michael Newdow (search) that making schoolchildren recite the Pledge of Allegiance (search) with the words "one nation under God" is unconstitutional. 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the case. 

Michael Newdow joins us now. 

Michael, good to have you back on the show. 


COLMES:  I want to see this proceed, and I'd like us to get a good decision here. 

But one of the hitches could be the claim that you were not the father of legal custody of your daughter, on whose behalf you brought this case at the time this started.  You somehow got some partial custody along the way, but the Supreme Court could decide, couldn't they, that because you didn't have custody, you don't have standing?

NEWDOW:  They could decide that.  First of all, I've had joint physical custody since my daughter's birth, and I've been there for my child. 

It's a question of legal custody, which was taken from me in the middle of our issues.  I have that back now.  That was taken from me because some imbecile, for want of a better word, accused me of child neglect for letting my daughter urinate in a bathroom.  So...

COLMES:  Well, you know, just like we're saying in the Terri Schiavo case, the court is deciding who is in charge, who gets to make decisions.

You are claiming you want certain rights for your daughter, and the mother of the girl is saying that she wants her daughter to be able to recite the pledge with the words "under God" in it as part of her education system. 

So what about the rights of the mother to have that for her daughter?

NEWDOW:  The mother can have those rights.  There's a whole bunch of issues here. 

First of all, there's the issue of do I have a right to send my child to school without her being inculcated with beliefs that make her think that her father is less than a full American. 

That was what the Ninth Circuit felt, which has nothing to do with my legal custody.  If I had no legal custody whatsoever, I would still have the right to...

COLMES:  But does the mother have the right to have her decision for your daughter, as well, is terms of what she would like to have your daughter learn?

NEWDOW:  It depends what we call inculcation of religious belief.  If that's considered to be a harm, as the Supreme Court has said frequently, then no parent can send their children to school to be harmed by the government. 

HANNITY:  The mother's been on the show, Michael, and she has said that you are not accurately representing your daughter's view, that she wants to say the pledge.  She wants...

NEWDOW:  My daughter is a 9-year-old child.  She doesn't have -- the mother says she's a Christian, you know ...

HANNITY:  A 9-year-old child can't discern whether or not she wants to say the pledge?  Apparently, she says she does. 

NEWDOW:  Well, but you're getting a view through the mother.  And that's all I can say. 

HANNITY:  Is she a liar?

NEWDOW:  Well, actually, there is written evidence to show that she changes her story.  But leave it at that.  She's a fine mother. 

HANNITY:  All right.  Let me ask this issue about Antonin Scalia has recused himself from this particular case.  In some of your filings, you called attention to Scalia's remarks that he made at a Religious Freedom Day, where he criticized the Ninth Circuit decision. 

I disagree with his recusal.  It has not been stated publicly whether or not this is the cause or the reason.  But why do you think he's incapable of being a fair and objective discerner of the facts?

NEWDOW:  That's not the standard.  The standard is whether or not there is any appearance of bias.  And he spoke at a -- first of all you're not supposed to comment on any case that's coming before you.  It was clear this case would be coming before him. 

HANNITY:  What are you afraid of, Michael?

NEWDOW:  I'm not afraid of anything. 

HANNITY:  You know, I have a poll here in front of me.  Ninety-two percent of Americans believe in God.  Is it your fear that there's going to be some theocracy?  Is that what the fear is?

NEWDOW:  That's not the future.  There is a theocracy right now. 

HANNITY:  We're living in a theocracy?

NEWDOW:  You don't think so? 

HANNITY:  I think that's silly. 

NEWDOW:  It's silly.  Well, you might want to check the constitutions of eight states, such as South Carolina, that say that no person who denies the existence of a supreme being shall hold any office under this constitution. 

COLMES:  We're going to take a break right there.  More with Michael Newdow.

HANNITY:  As we continue on HANNITY & COLMES with Michael Newdow, is it your plan that you're going to argue this case yourself before the Supreme Court?

NEWDOW:  If they let me. 

HANNITY:  That's going to be very entertaining, I've got to tell you.  Are you prepared for this?  Are you going to have some -- I'm sure you've heard Supreme Court arguments before.  It's a tough group over there. 

NEWDOW:  No.  Not as tough as you, Sean. 

COLMES:  If you can handle Hannity. 

HANNITY:  You've actually said that you've had some of the more tougher moments in debate with me, or so I've heard. 

But, look, I don't care what you believe.  I don't question your patriotism, Michael.  You were talking earlier about -- I'm not questioning your patriotism.  I believe you have a right to stand up for what you believe in. 

NEWDOW:  Thank you.

HANNITY:  But I think your original finding that dealt with, quote, your "daughter," I think that was less than honest.  Because I don't think...

NEWDOW:  Did you ever read my complaint? 


NEWDOW:  Which part did you find less than honest?

HANNITY:  We have discussed this before. 

NEWDOW:  I'm waiting for you to tell me what part. 

HANNITY:  You originally stated that you were speaking on her behalf. 

NEWDOW:  I did not say that at all. 

HANNITY:  Yes, you did.

NEWDOW:  I said I have the right to send my child to public school without her being indoctrinated with religious beliefs. 

HANNITY:  And that's the point.  You're speaking on her behalf.

NEWDOW:  I'm speaking on my behalf.  It's my daughter, and I have the right to send her to school without people...

COLMES:  I'm curious to know, Michael.  What -- you don't want to stop with this.  You want to take "in God we trust" off coins.  Is this the beginning...

NEWDOW:  It's because we have a theocracy. 

COLMES:  Right.  But you -- is this the beginning?  The court has actually said that we're inured to the idea of God on coins.  It doesn't have religious context or meaning at this point. 

NEWDOW:  I'm not sure where they said that.  They've alluded to the idea that maybe that's what's going on.  But they've never come out and said that.

COLMES:  And so that the meaning -- I think it diminishes God to put him on a coin or put him in a pledge.  And that those who really are believers, I would be upset for the opposite reason, that it doesn't belong there because to honor God, don't politicize it, don't put it in a place where people have to say it. 

NEWDOW:  Theodore Roosevelt, actually, when it was off the coins for awhile and then it was going to be brought back in and he said not to do that.  He thought that was terrible.  People would be handling, you know, money that said God.  But there was an outcry because everybody was concerned about his theocracy. 

COLMES:  All right.  Michael, thank you very much.  Hope to see you again as the case progresses.  Thank you for coming on.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.