If you don't want to read all of this, here's a Cliff Notes style summary from noodles. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060720...3Np24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA-- A bill barring federal and supreme courts from hearing cases pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance has just passed the House of Representatives, by a surprisingly wide margin, although it's future in the Senate is significantly more uncertain. Sure, on the surface that doesn't sound like much - it's the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America, how bad can it be? However, the issues at play here are actually quite a bit more complex. Essentially, this one comes down to two words in the Pledge, the phrase "under God," and the House attempting to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling that being forced to utter the Pledge when it directly conflicts with your religious beliefs (or lack thereof, in certain instances) is an infringement upon your personal rights as an American citizen. The courts concluded this in 2002, and while it was overturned on a technicality in 2004 it is likely to be reaffirmed the next time the Supreme Court hears a similar case. So, rather than admitting defeat or simply reversing the (i believe) executive order by Eisenhower that first added the phrase "under God" to the Pledge in the 50's to mollify any possible objection to the Pledge, the religious right elements of the GOP are simply trying to change the rules of the game and remove the Pledge from the jurisdiction of the courts. Now, for what it's worth, I support the courts' stance here, and my reasons are twofold - that all else equal the role of the federal government is to put policies in place that disenfranchise the fewest number of its' citizens, and that on a strictly artistic level the power of the phrase "One nation indivisible" kicks the crap out of "One nation, under God, indivisible." However, the presence of two words in the Pledge of Allegiance isn't what's at stake here - what we're seeing is tantamount to an act of war upon the system of checks and balances put in place by our Founding Fathers to prevent an abuse on the legislative system. The house and senate are held in check first by the president's ability to veto legislation (provided it isn't then re-passed with a 2/3 majority, which is in turn a check on the executive branch) and second by the judicial branch's ability to review cases questioning the constitutionality of laws passed by the executive and legislative branches. This attempt to limit the ability of the judicial branch is something that we've seen for essentially the entire Bush administration, first in his use of terms like "activist judges" suggesting that they are abusing their powers to overhear cases to create legislation (which is blatantly absurd, as they only hear cases that come to them and then they can overturn or uphold existing legislation but not actually create new laws), then by the GOP's threatening to use the "nuclear option" as it's been labeled to allow justices to be confirmed by a simple majority by banning fillibusters on judicial nominations, effectively giving control of the judicial branch to the majority party in the legislative, and finally with this, actual legislation attempting to limit their scope. Not to be sensationalist or anything, but this is essentially a frst step towards a totalitarian state. The good news here is that it's unlikely to pass in the Senate, and even if it does there's no way in hell it will be upheld if the supreme court is presented with a case questioning it's constitutionality (because, frankly, it IS an attack on the constitution), which the American Civil Liberties Union will undoubtably do. However, the fact that legislation like this could even pass in the House absolutely boggles my mind - I'm sure what it came down to was no one wanted to look "unpatriotic" in light of a coming election season and in the middle of a messy war, and I say that as an indictment of both major political parties, as neither of them should be foolish enough to try to fundamentally change the constitution to such a radical extreme. I only know that this happened because I happened to see a news story on this on yahoo briefly last night - it took a bit of digging to find it this morning. Not surprisingly, this one is being done mostly under the radar.