Again displaying her “Republican Lite” tendencies, Stephanie Herseth was one of 34 Democrats to vote in favor of the “Pledge Protection Act.” As passed, the bill deprives federal courts of jurisdiction “to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, the Pledge of Allegiance … or its recitation.” She also voted against an amendment that would have exempted the US Supreme Court from this ban.
The final vote was basically a party line one. I have not analyzed where the sponsors line up in that regard but note that Herseth’s Republican predecessor, Bill Janklow, was one of the sponsors of the legislation.
I know my “Democrat friends” will say the vote doesn’t really mean anything because the Act will not ultimately be passed or, if passed, will be found unconstitutional. I, however, believe that principles take priority over politics when a lawyer is asked to support unconstitutional and improper legislation. Likewise, I am extremely tired of Congress spending so much time elevating political form over legal substance by pandering to so-called wedge issues. But, evidently, my nearly half century of life hasn’t completely throttled all my naivete and altruism.