The state’s highest court on Friday rejected the proposition that the phrase “under God’’ in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the religious beliefs and equal rights of an atheist family
with children in the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District.
“The daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate Article 1 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights,” the state constitutional provision that guarantees equal rights, Chief Justice Roderick Ireland wrote for the unanimous Supreme Judicial Court.
Ireland wrote that the couple from Acton, who contended that their three children would be deemed unpatriotic or be socially marginalized by not taking the pledge, had not shown that the children had been treated differently.
“There is no evidence . . . that the Doe children have ever been subjected to any type of punishment, bullying, or other mistreatment, criticism, condemnation, or ostracism as a result of not participating in the pledge or not reciting the words ‘under God,’ ” Ireland wrote.
Without evidence that someone’s rights had been violated, the SJC said, the court would not strike down a voluntary practice or a law as a constitutional violation simply because someone had a philosophical disagreement with it.
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