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One of those crazy teen blogger types. Completely bribe-able with coffee. An INTP.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Refusing to Pledge: an Incredibly Brief, Largely Copy-and-Pasted Legal History

In 2006, in the Florida case Frazier v. Alexandre, 434 F.Supp.2d 1350 (S.D. Fla. May 31, 2006), a federal district court in Florida ruled that a 1942 state law requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. As a result of that decision, a Florida school district was ordered to pay $32,500 to a student who chose not to say the pledge and was ridiculed and called "unpatriotic" by a teacher.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943, 319 U.S. 624, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 87 L.Ed. 1628, the Supreme Court, overruling Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940, 310 U.S. 586, 60 S.Ct. 1010, 84 L.Ed. 1375, held that a West Virginia State Board of Education resolution which required children, as a prerequisite to their continued attendance at public school, to salute the flag and recite the pledge, wasunconstitutional as applied to children of Jehovah's Witnesses since it denied them freedom of speech and freedom of worship. In rejecting the resolution the court held that the state could not "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion," nor can the state "force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." The majority (it was a 6-3 vote) found that the freedom asserted to refuse to participate in the flag salute did not interfere with or deny the rights of others to participate.

The standards established in Barnette have been expanded and clarified by subsequent lower court rulings. The Maryland Supreme Court invalidated a requirement that students objecting to the flag salute stand while the rest of the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance. See State v. Lundquist, 278 A. 2d 263 (1971). In 1973, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a school to allow a student to remain quietly seated during the flag salute. See Goetz v. Ansell, 477 F.2d 636 (2d. Cir. 1973).

In 2002, Section 171.021, RSMo (Missouri Revised Statutes) was amended to state that "every school in this state which is supported in whole or in part by public moneys shall ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is recited in at least one scheduled class of every pupil enrolled in that school no less often than once per week. No student shall be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance."

I want to print these out on a single sheet of paper and carry them with me so that next time my theater teacher- or anyone else, for that bloody matter- tells me I have to stand during the Pledge I can refuse, then hand her the paper.

None of these cases are in a court in my state, but I think the general message is pretty clear.


  1. I just think it's nice to show some respect for your country, that's all. And it's not like it's that much work or rocket science to do. And to be honest, we're a pretty fucking awesome country.


  2. I do not pledge to a flag. If I were to pledge to anything, it would be liberty and justice for all. But it's not even that- I could be persuaded to pledge if it weren't for the fact that they're requiring me to do so. It's very much the principle of the matter.

    And because we're such a great fucking country with so many liberties, I think my teacher(s) should respect my right to not stand. It isn't like I'm talking through the Pledge and the moment of silence; I sit quietly and respectfully for the duration of the ordeal. I just don't participate.


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