New Jersey State Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to remove the words "under God" from the daily Pledge of Allegiance recited by students in Matawan-Aberdeen schools.
The lawsuit was filed by The American Humanist Association on behalf of an unnamed family with a child attending school in the district. The lawsuit claimed that the acknowledgement of God in the Pledge discriminated against atheists and violated the New Jersey constitution.
The association's attorney, David Niose, stated, "The daily pledge recitation is a core part of how we define patriotism for children on a daily basis, so the exercise is discriminatory if it associates patriotism with God-belief and suggests that atheists and humanists are second-class citizens."
Bauman countered that "the words 'under God' are now as interwoven through the fabric of the Pledge of Allegiance as the threads of red, white and blue into the fabric of the flag to which the Pledge is recited."
Bauman added that New Jersey law permits any child to opt out of reciting the Pledge for any reason. He also denied that there was any evidence to suggest that the unnamed child at the center of the suit was ever asked to explain why he or she declined to recite the Pledge.
The school district's attorney anticipates an appeal to be filed by the AHA, but the organization has not confirmed a decision as of yet.