Friday, July 5, 2002
Demonstrators Protest Pledge Decision in Front of Pasadena Home Owned by Ninth Circuit Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
About 50 demonstrators protested the Ninth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals ruling that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as a public school activity violates the First Amendment by marching in front of a Pasadena condominium where Senior Judge Alfred T. Goodwin owns a unit.
The demonstration, which lasted several hours, began late Tuesday afternoon and culminated with speeches by Rev. Wiley Drake, who organized the protest, and Ronald Branson, who heads a movement dedicated to ending judges’ civil immunity.
Drake is a Southern Baptist preacher from Buena Park and is well known for his battles with authorities there over his efforts to maintain a homeless shelter at his church, despite officials’ insistence that it was an illegal safety hazard.
Branson’s group, JAIL 4 Judges, failed to place its “Judicial Accountability Initiative” on the ballot two years ago but has been organizing nationwide and hopes to pass measures in several states, the North Hills activist said.
Drake said he organized the demonstration after Goodwin authored the opinion for a divided panel in last week’s case of Newdow v. U.S. Congress. The jurist, joined by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, said that the inclusion of the phrase “under God”—which was added to the pledge in the 1950s—indicated an impermissible preference for monotheism.
Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez dissented, saying the Establishment Clause only requires that the government be religiously neutral. Goodwin stayed the ruling shortly after it was issued, pending possible en banc review.
Charles Almanza, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshal, who is responsible for safeguarding federal property and officials, confirmed that Goodwin is the recorded owner of a unit in the Pasadena building.
Almanza said he did not know whether the judge—whose chambers are in Pasadena but who has long had a residence in Oregon—actually uses the unit. In any event, he wasn’t there Tuesday, Almanza said, so the marshal left security issues up to the Pasadena Police Department.
City police officers were present throughout the demonstration, but there were no incidents.
Drake said he did not take the protest to the Ninth Circuit courthouse, located a few minutes from the condominium, because he expected a hostile reaction from the Marshal’s Service. “You can’t even go into the courthouse and pee without a federal marshal watching you,” he intoned.
Demonstrations at judge’s residences are unusual, but have occurred in the past, most notably at then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joyce Karlin’s home in 1991 after she granted probation to a Korean grocer convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of an African American teenager.
Karlin obtained a temporary restraining order against the pickets, issued by Judge Ronald Sohigian, but it was lifted by the late Judge Stephen O’Neil after it was challenged as a prior restraint on speech.
Goodwin, 79, was appointed to the Ninth Circuit by then-President Richard M. Nixon in 1971 after two years on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, to which he was also appointed by Nixon. He had previously been an Oregon Supreme Court justice, a state trial judge, and a partner in a Eugene law firm.
He took senior status in 1991.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company