Bush signed the legislation without comment. It reinforces support for the words "under God" in the pledge, and for "In God we trust" as the national motto. The measure was approved unanimously in the Senate and drew just five no votes in the House. Congress rushed to act after the federal appeals court in California ruled in June that the phrase "under God," inserted into the pledge by Congress in 1954, amounted to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
The legislation faulted the court for its "erroneous rationale" and "absurd result." The new law also modifies the manner in which the Pledge of Allegiance is to be delivered by stating that, when not in uniform, men should remove any nonreligious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Previously, the standard dictated that "any headdress" be removed.
Those House members voting against the bill, all Democrats, were Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Michael Honda and Pete Stark of California, Jim McDermott of Washington and Bobby Scott of Virginia. At the time, Scott called the legislation "totally gratuitous" even though he shared the majority's objections to the court's ruling.
Four House Democrats--Gary Ackerman and Nydia Velazquez of New York, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Mel Watt of North Carolina--voted present.