Published January 13, 2015
In what is seen as a potential bellwether hearing for the nation, Massachusetts' highest court is scheduled to begin listening to the argument Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance, specifically the phrase, "under God," violates students' rights.
The Supreme Judicial Court will consider Doe v. Action-Boxborough Regional School District and it is expected to rule whether the pledge violates students’ rights.
"We feel confident that our arguments are the right ones, and we're certainly hopeful that they're persuasive to the justices," Eric Rassbach, the deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told the Boston Herald. The Becket Fund is arguing on behalf of the school district.
Rassbach has said if the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, you "would then see a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country."
The suit was filed by attorneys for an anonymous atheist couple. They will likely argue that compulsory recitation of the pledge represents an injury to the state's equal rights laws, or the guarantee of equal protection for all concerned under those laws, The Religion News Service reported.
The report said such legal maneuvering borrows a page directly from the recently successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, which made a similar and successful argument, also before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.
Roy Speckhardt, the executive director for the American Humanist Association, which is representing the family, told The Christian Post in August that the primary argument against the pledge is that it "violates our right to equal protection under the law."
"It makes us appear as second-class citizens just because we believe something different from the majority," he told the paper.
The Becket Fund reportedly scored a victory in June 2012, when a lower court judge ruled recitation of the pledge did not violate the Massachusetts Constitution, the school district’s anti-discrimination policy or state law.