Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis once blocked a resolution in her hometown that expressed support for using the phrase “one nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
But her campaign tells The Daily Caller that Davis did not object to the resolution over philosophical grounds — she “believes the entire Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional,” a spokesman said — but because she didn’t think it was a relevant issue for the Fort Worth City Council to take up.
Davis, a Democratic state senator running against Republican Greg Abbott for governor, served on the Fort Worth City Council from 1999 to 2008.
In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals caused a ruckus by ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because the phrase “under God” violates the constitutional protection against the official establishment of religion. That decision, Newdow v. United States Congress, was later reversed by the courts.
According to the minutes of the July 2, 2002 Fort Worth City Council meeting reviewed by The Daily Caller, Davis helped a fellow council member block a resolution that stated that Newdow v. United States Congress “was wrongly decided and should be reversed.”
The minutes said that when another council member offered to table the resolution supporting “Under God,” Davis seconded that motion, which effectively prevented it from going any further.
“I can tell you…the reasoning for the decision to table appears to be because this was a case from a California district court and did not have anything to do with city business,” Fort Worth spokesman Bill Begley told TheDC on Wednesday.
The writer of a July 5, 2002 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Davis was against the resolution because “the council should stick to legitimate city issues” and the “ruling, later put on hold, didn’t even affect Texas.”
Reached Wednesday, Davis’ campaign pointed out that in recent years, the Democratic lawmaker has voted several times in support of the Pledge of Allegiance.
In 2011, Davis voted for a Senate bill that added the phrase “one state under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to the state flag during state flag retirement ceremonies.
In 2013, she voted for legislation that required students to recite the pledges to the United States and Texas flags.
“Wendy Davis believes the entire Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional and has proudly recited all its words thousands of times,” Zac Petkanas, a Davis spokesman, told TheDC. “That’s why she not only voted to add ‘one state under God’ to the state’s pledge of allegiance but to require students to recite the pledge both to the United States and Texas flags.”
Clyde Picht, a member of the Fort Worth City Council during that time, disagreed with Davis on the issue, according to the minutes. During a phone interview Wednesday, Picht told TheDC he doesn’t specifically remember that debate but knows he supported keeping “under God” in the pledge.
“I’m not particularly religious, but I suspect I just felt like we’ve been a Christian nation in the past, a religious nation…so I felt it was worthy of staying in there,” he said.
Davis is running for governor against Abbott, the attorney general in Texas. In 2004, Abbot filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief opposing the Newdow ruling against the pledge. In it, he argued the phrase “under God” is consistent with the Constitution.