The origin of the phraseology, " to the Constitution" in this version of the pledge is uncertain. It was first suggested to me back in the late 1950's or early 1960's when the carnage done by the 1954 adjustments to the Nation's official Pledge was settling into place. At that time, the long hard struggle ahead to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and thus also our sacred civil rights was pungently evident to anyone with the sense to see it. The basic notion of allegiance to the Constitution is an intuitive one, whose origin can be ascribed to the earliest days of the Nation. The Constitution is the bedrock of our American nationalism as it defines the structure of our government and articulates the axioms of the Nation's supreme law. The Sixth Article of the Constitution specifies:
"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby ....."
The ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were a unique development in the history of government, because they constituted a written body of organic law to which all individuals and institutions are accountable, including religion, its institutions, and its practitioners. This accountability is an essential mandate regardless of the political position of individuals or the cultural popularity of institutions, long standing or emergent. Notably also, the mandate includes Washington and thus all of Government's elected and appointed officials.
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
In juxtaposition to this is the incorporation of liberties both specific and implied. First among them in the Bill of Rights is liberty regarding matters of religion, which is directly pursuant to the mandate of the Sixth Article as shown above. This is a fundamental entitlement that neither government on any level nor religion of any kind has the right to contravene. Any legitimate dispute about this matter was laid to rest by ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments. The Bill of Rights including the First Amendment's religion clauses were prerequisite to the Constitution being ratified by all the state legislatures at the time of the Nation's founding. Thus, it is both historically and civilly appropriate that the Nationís stand of allegiance be to the Constitution and its sacred principles of liberty and impartial justice.
Further historical justification for rescuing the Pledge from the anti-constitutional tampering that occurred in 1954, and for adjusting Frances Bellamy's original religiously neutral formulation, is based on the premise that the Pledge like the American Revolution, is a work in progress yet to be fully accomplished. On technical grounds, it's notable that the Constitution lays out a form of government possessing a mixture of attributes that are both democratic and republican. The vital balance of power and authority is that both attributes are subordinate to the mandates of the Constitution itself as the supreme body of organic law in our nation. In other words, above all else, we are a Constitutional Nation based on the Rule of Law.
Undoubtedly, the Republicans must be quite content with the present pledge singling out the "Republic" as the central focus of national allegiance. However, this falls short of doing fair justice to the Nation's democratic attributes, the separation of powers within government, and to the Constitution itself which is the Supreme Law of the Land. In view of the existence of this imbalance, it is appropriate for the ceremonial focus of allegiance to be redirected to the Constitution proper as the highest governing principle of our nationalism rather then favoring one subordinate attribute over the others. Hence, the removal of the term "Republic" and the substitution of the terminology, "to the Constitution for which it stands."
Several different versions of the pledge are identified herein. Alternative three (see alternatives), as well as the one on the home page, also include the term "Equality" along with "Liberty and Justice" in the closing phraseology. Actually, this is an extension of the Francis Bellamy's own thinking, as he did consider it's inclusion. Unfortunately, back in the late 1800's the causes of woman's suffrage and racial civil rights were not popular topics (article). Therefore, he evidently felt disposed to leave this detailed adjustment for a more auspicious time (note). The composition of both alternatives is based on the consideration that the appropriate time has indeed arrived. In alternative three, the notation of "under the Constitution" was borrowed from alternative two.Lastly, the justification for the excluding the term "under God" should be evident to anyone with a reasonable perspective on the original intent of the framers as reflected in the Constitution's verbal import. The Sixth Article prohibits any religious loyalty test ever being imposed as a requirement of public office and consequently as a requirement of common citizenship. The First Amendment prohibits any law-making respecting an (any) establishment of religion. Belief in a deity called God is undeniably an established religious belief. These explicit restrictions mean that it is unconstitutional to use the United States government as a vehicle to endorse or peddle religious ideology. The notion of a nation "under God", is an advocacy of a religious ideology. The fact that it is monotheistic and therefore fundamentally exclusionary, makes it an affront to the "free exercise thereof", which is also guaranteed by the First Amendment. Using government statute to force national allegiance to any deity or religious ideology, monotheistic or not, is a blatant undermining of essential principles of constitutional law. The framers of the Constitution did not lightly mandate against religious tests. They had profound historical justification when they worded the sixth article as they did (see article) (see also commentary on The Justice Department Appeal for details).
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America - and to the Constitution for which it stands, - one Nation indivisible, with Equality, Liberty, and Justice for all.
Recite this pledge, embrace it, make your own. Share it with your trusted friends and associates. Publish it on your own website. It's a freebee! The only obligation is allegiance to the United States American ideals that it represents.
This and the several other alternatives presented herein reflect somewhat different perspectives about what the exact wording of the pledge should be. They nevertheless share a common ideal of religious neutrality. Likewise, in spite of differing opinions about exact wording, or even if there should be any pledge at all, there are many who share the common goal of having the current "under God" version stricken from government statute. That's the grass roots bottom line. Currently, one of the best focused efforts aims to have the pledge restored to its pre-1954 state (alternative one). Regardless of exact wording preference, it's urged that their movement be given your support. To that end, please visit their pledge petition web page and add your "John Henry" to the roles. Likewise also for any other petition or movement that serves essentially the same end. In addition, please consider writing Congress and the Supreme Court to express your support of these movements directly.
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