By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 27, 2002 12:02 PM

President Bush is calling the whole thing “ridiculous” and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) has labeled the ruling “just nuts.” Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri considers it “political correctness run amok.” In the meantime, people across the nation are talking about the stunning ruling by a San Francisco federal appeals court Wednesday that declared for the first time that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because of the expression “under God,” reports the Associated Press. The two words were inserted by Congress in 1954 (at the height of America’s anti-Communist hysteria, notes The New York Times in a Thursday editorial that also criticizes Wednesday’s decision). Should the ruling be allowed to stand, schoolchildren would discontinue reciting the pledge, at least in the nine Western states covered by the court’s jurisdiction. Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento, Calif., doctor (who holds a law degree and represented himself in this case, says the AP), had sued his daughter’s school district, Congress and then-President Bill Clinton in 2000. At the time, he called the pledge a “religious idea that certain people don’t agree with.” A federal judge had dismissed the suit, but the appeals court ruled in Newdow’s favor on Wednesday, the AP reports. Thursday morning, NBC News reported that Newdow has had to remove his daughter from her school because of threats against her.