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Fox Bashes California Attorney On Pledge Of Allegiance Court Decision

Reported by Donna - September 14, 2005

Today on Studio B we had Rick Folbaum filling in for Shepard Smith. The discussion centered on the decision of a Federal Judge in California on a case brought by Attorney Michael Newdow regarding the phrase 'under God' being included in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Federal Judge ruled that forcing children to listen or recite the pledge with the phrase 'under God' in it, was unconstitutional.

The following is my transcript (paraphrased, but pretty much verbatim) between Rick Folbaum and Judge Andrew Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox.

Rick Folbaum: A Federal trial judge has ruled that reciting the pledge in public schools because of the words 'under God' that are in the pledge, is unconstitutional.

First of all, what is this judge, who is this judge? He's a Federal Judge, but he doesn't sit on the Court of Appeals?

Judge Andrew Napolitano: No, the eastern district of California. Michael Newdow, an atheist, a physician and a lawyer filed suit four years ago on behalf of his daughter so that she would not be forced to say the words 'under God'.

He won that case in the Federal trial court. He won the case before the 9th Circuit Court, which is the Federal Appeals Court for California and western parts of the U.S. That 9th Circuit decision said because children are of tender years and because the constitution says the government can't instill any sense of belief of a god in them, forcing them to say 'under God' is unconstitutional.

When the school district appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court said they weren't going to hear any of it because Mr. Newdow was not the custodial guardian of his daughter.

So, he goes back and he files a new lawsuit with two parents who do have custody of their children. And that lawsuit asks for the same relief, stop the school district from forcing these kids to recite the pledge with the phrase 'under God' in it.

Today a Federal District Court Judge agreed with him and said I will sign an order, soon as you present it to me, Mr. Newdow, stopping the school district from forcing children to recite the pledge as we know it.

Rick Folbaum: What affect will this ruling have nationally? Does this just affect children out in this particular district of California? (Comment: Yes, of course, he's a District Judge) Kids all over the country are back in school now, some for only a couple of days. They're reciting the pledge. Are they going to have to stop? (Comment: No, don't you even listen to your own reports? It's a California District Judge. Is he trying to incite the Fox audience?)

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Great question. (Comment: Right) There are Federal Judges who have ruled elsewhere in the U.S. the exact opposite. So, that tells me that his colleagues may disagree with him. (Comment: Oh, I get it, it was a great question so you could tell people that there are other judges that don't agree with this judge)

Therefore this case only affects the area of California over which he sits, which is the capital of California and school districts in the area. You can be sure that this school board will appeal this to the 9th Circuit.

The same (his emphasis) 9th Circuit that already said you can't recite 'under God'.

So, from there it will make it to the Supreme Court and soon to be Chief Justice Roberts and his court will have a say in this. (Comment: Amazing that Napolitano can see into the future and structure his sentence in such a way as to reassure the Fox audience that Justice Robert's court will have a say in this)

Rick Folbaum: Now, if Justice Roberts (Comment: Did I miss something or is this false reporting? He's Judge Roberts, not Justice Roberts) were asked about this, what could he possibly say?

Judge Napolitano at this point basically said that Robert's would probably decline to answer because the case will likely come before the Supreme Court in the future.

At this point the conversation broke off and they talked about same sex marriage in Massachusetts, which will be covered in another post. Then they came back to this case.

Rick Folbaum: Let's go back to Michael Newdow and the pledge of allegiance question. Michael Newdow, uh... I'm just wondering, is this man an opportunist? Is he just continuously trying to find ways to push his point across and to...to stop what he considers to be..uh...an infringement on his rights as an atheist?

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Interesting question because the new case that he brought, the one he won today, he brought not just on behalf of the children but on behalf of their parents. The judge threw that portion out of the case that brought relief on behalf of the parents. The parents said we are offended at a school board meeting where the pledge is recited. The judge said if you're offended, walk out, you're an adult you can do that.

But, your children are not permitted or able to get up and walk out of their kindergarten classroom. They are compelled to listen to or recite the words 'under God'.

And that's what, in this judges opinion, the 9th Circuit has declared, is offensive to the constitution.

Uh...Mr. Newdow, Dr. Newdow, Lawyer Newdow, is an avowed atheist (Comment: So?) and a zealot, if you will, in attempting to bring about his understanding of the constitution as the law of the land. The Supreme Court will have the final say here.

Comments: I made various comments throughout the transcript, however as you can see there was a definite attempt to demonize Mr. Newdow by identifying him an atheist several times, calling him an opportunist and finally even calling him a zealot. If you look zealot up in the dictionary you will see the definition as being a 'fanatical partisan'.

Why is this man a fanatical partisan according to Fox? Because he has won his case in a court of law?

Is this fair and balanced coverage? Isn't the media's responsibility to report the news without any bias? Bias certainly showed up here in this segment of Studio B on Fox.

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