PLEDGE PROTECTION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - September 23, 2004)
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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Watt amendment which would restore the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over questions relating to the Pledge of Allegiance, changing the bill back to the way it read when I and 224 other Members cosponsored it.
Congress clearly has the authority under article III of the Constitution to define the jurisdiction of the Federal district and appellate courts, and the original H.R. 2028 was perfectly supportable on this point. But this new bill strips the Supreme Court jurisdiction, and I cannot support that.
Mr. Chairman, in our more than 200-year history as a Nation, there is no direct court precedent in which the Supreme Court is cut off entirely from review of a constitutional issue. Congress wisely has chosen not to test its power to deny Supreme Court review of laws Congress has passed; that is until H.R. 3313 and this amended version of H.R. 2028.
I know that the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman Sensenbrenner) cited Ex Parte McCardle as authority under article III to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. But in McCardle, the court recognized that other avenues and at least some level of review were available on a constitutional challenge.
I would caution my colleagues to think twice before tampering with authorities clearly granted in the Constitution. The issue today may be the Pledge, but what if the issue tomorrow is second amendment rights, civil rights, environmental protection or a host of other issues that Members may hold dear. I would ask my colleagues, do we really need 50 different versions of the Pledge of Allegiance? I certainly do not think so.
I believe that "under God" are two of the most important words in the Pledge. I also believe that the Supreme Court should be the final arbiter of all Federal questions. That is why I urge my colleagues to support the Watt amendment to the Pledge Protection Act.