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Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
There's been a lot of talk about the Pledge of Allegiance these days.
Here's a comment from our legal director on whether a child can be forced to stand and / or take part:
The matter of the compulsory pledge in public schools was settled by the Supreme Court sixty years ago. In sum, the opinion states that while schools may conduct the pledge, it CANNOT compel students to participate.
The Case before the Court was West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). The opinion was authored by Mr. Justice Jackson and it contains a statement of Constitutional principle which has been cited many times since. He said, \If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.\
I believe the following line should be equally as well-known. It summarizes the Court's decision in these words: \We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.\
The school cannot force your son to say the pledge, nor can they punish or sanction him for refusing to do so. The school should be more interested in teaching about this aspect of Constitutional protection, rather than breaching it by compelling rote participation. I would recommend you advise school authorities to consult with their attorney, tell him to read the Barnette decision, and advise them accordingly.
How about just forcing them to stand silently?
It would be my position that the various elements of the flag pledge--stand, hand on heart, recite, etc--are so inextricably related that performance of one would would constitute a tacit adaptation of the balance. I see it as an all or nothing matter.