House amendments called
By Hannah Lodwick
Associated Baptist Press
WASHINGTON (ABP)–The U.S. House of Representatives has approved two amendments to a spending bill that are intended to protect the Ten Commandments and Pledge of Allegiance.
While the amendments were celebrated by sponsor Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., other lawmakers predicted they will have no practical effect.
One of Hostettler's amendments prohibits U.S. marshals from removing a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building. The amendment passed 260-161.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore placed the monument in the courthouse. A federal judge later ordered the monument removed, although the case has been appealed to the Supreme Court.
Hostettler said he does not trust the high court to do the right thing.
“The framers of the Constitution never intended for the fickle sentiments of as few as five people in black robes, unelected and unaccountable to the people, to have the power to make such fundamental decisions for society,” Hostettler said during House debate.
“That power was crafted and reserved for the legislature. We do not have to put our faith in the faint possibility that some day five people in black robes will wake up and see that they have usurped the authority to legislate and will constrain themselves from straying from their constitutional boundaries.”
House members also approved Hostettler's amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce a ruling by the 9th Circuit of Appeals that said California's school children cannot say the Pledge of Allegiance because it includes the words “under God.” The vote on the amendment passed 307-119.
Both amendments were part of the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Spending Bill adopted this summer. To take effect, the amendments must be added to the Senate version of the bill and signed by President Bush.
Even then, the amendments won't carry the weight of law. While federal funds cannot be used to enforce the lower courts' rulings, legal scholars pointed out, the rulings are still in effect and can be enforced by local and state authorities.