A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that it's not unconstitutional to have the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The 2-1 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected arguments by atheist Michael Newdow that the phrase violates the separation of church and state.
"The Pledge is constitutional," Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the majority. "The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded."
"The Ninth Circuit finally stood up for the Pledge," said Kevin J. "Seamus" Hasson of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which argued the case.
"The Court has just said what was self-evident to Thomas Jefferson and the signers of our Declaration of Independence in 1776 - our rights are unalienable precisely because they come not from the State, but from the Creator," Hasson added.
The case began in 2002 after Newdow sued his daughter's Sacramento school district for forcing students to recite the pledge. The suit soon reached the U.S. Supreme Court but was denied due to a lack of legal standing since Newdow did not have full custody of the girl.
Newdow then filed a challenge on behalf of other parents, saying he just "wanted to be treated equally" as an atheist. The case reached the 9th Circuit Court in 2007.
In a separate ruling, the court also upheld the use of the phrase "In God We Trust" on money.
*Originally published March 11, 2010.