InstaPundit's reaction to the new Pledge decision sounds right to me politically -- the decision helps get conservative Justices confirmed. It helps Roberts, and it will also probably help the next nominee. Whatever you think of the merits (remember, I'm talking here about the politics, not the merits), the public seems solidly against courts' striking down the saying of the "under God" Pledge in public schools. Here's what a poll following the Ninth Circuit's initial decision yielded:
ABC News/Washington Post Poll. June 26-30, 2002. N=1,024 adults nationwide. MoE Â± 3. Fieldwork by TNS Intersearch.
"The Pledge of Allegiance says the United States is one nation 'under God.' A federal court in California has ruled that the Pledge cannot be recited in public schools because this phrase violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Do you support or oppose this court ruling?" . . .
No opinion 2[%]
"Do you think the phrase 'under God' [rotate:] should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance OR should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?" . . .
Should remain 89[%]
Should be removed 10[%]
No opinion 1[%]
This seems to be the one issue on which the public is most solidly aligned with the solid the Court's conservatives, not just the moderate conservatives -- and highlighting this issue in the public's mind thus helps strengthen the case for conservative nominees.
(Justice O'Connor did opine in the Supreme Court's Newdow decision that the Pledge was indeed constitutional. But her votes and Justice Kennedy's votes in past cases helped cast doubt on the Pledge's constitutionality; and the votes of Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas have provided the most solid protection for this sort of governmental religious speech.)