A recent conflict at a Florida public school related to the Pledge the Allegiance raises an amazing question about student rights, at least in two states.

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The dispute, according to school and also police reports in Lakeland, Florida, started when a student and also substitute teacher said over the student’s refusal to take component in the pledge in class. The college student was arrested after the dispute, police said. And the school ar said, “To be clear, the student was not arrested because that refusing to get involved in the pledge; students are not forced to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance.”


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The student’s mother told a neighborhood television station she wanted the dues dropped, and also the school must be disciplined because that its actions, and not her son. The story shortly received nationwide media attention. 

But lost in that fist is a debate about a seemingly cleared up constitutional precedent: the best of students come opt out of the pledge at public schools. In 1943, the can be fried Court rule in West Virginia State plank of education v. Barnette that “the complimentary Speech clause of the very first Amendment prohibits public colleges from forcing students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge that Allegiance.”

"If over there is any kind of fixed star in our constitutional constellation, that is that no official, high or petty, deserve to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or various other matters the opinion, or pressure citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein," stated Justice Robert Jackson in his well known opinion.

The National structure Center looked at the Pledge that Allegiance statutes or other guidance for all 50 states. In all, 32 states have laws or guidelines that specifcally speak students deserve to opt that the pledge on your own. Another 15 states have actually statutes that space unclear, delegate the selection to neighborhood schools or parents, or it seems to be ~ to suggest students should take the pledge. And three claims (Iowa, Vermont and Wyoming) don’t have state pledge laws.

Of the states that it seems ~ to need the pledge, over there is leeway for colleges to allow students to no take it. Georgia’s law, for example, reads that “each college student in the public colleges of this state shall be afforded the opportunity to recite the Pledge that Allegiance come the flag the the United claims of America during each college day.” But in accuse from the state’s room of education from 2006, public schools were told that “students not participating in the recitation the the Pledge might stand and refrain native reciting the Pledge or might remain seated.”

Massachusetts had actually its Supreme righteousness Court clear up the matter. In that 2014 decision in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough regional School District, the court stated students might not be compelled come recite the pledge. “It is undisputed, as a issue of commonwealth constitutional law and also as a issue of reality on the summary judgment record before us, the no student is compelled to recite the pledge,” said Chief righteousness Roderick Ireland.

However, two states, Florida and Texas, have actually seen your pledge statutes experiment in court, since they require permission indigenous a parent or guardian because that a student to decline to take part in the pledge. 

In Texas, one problem seemingly ended in December 2018. A high school senior, India Landry, sat throughout the Pledge of Allegiance at her school and also was expelled. Landry sue the school and also the state of Texas intervened in the lawsuit. 

“The U.S. Supreme Court has actually repeatedly hosted that parents have actually a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of your children, i m sorry is a vital aspect the liberty guaranteed by the Constitution,” Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton said. “The Texas Legislature defended that interest by providing the selection of whether an individual student will certainly recite the Pledge that Allegiance come the student’s parental or guardian. School youngsters cannot unilaterally refuse to get involved in the pledge.”

That instance apparently ended in a settlement with a defendant. But federal ar judge Keith P. Ellison had determined the case could move forward on an initial and 14th modification grounds before its dismissal.

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A situation Ellison referenced in his decision, Frazier v. Winn, finished in a different method in 2008, once the 11th Circuit Appeals Court claimed Florida’s state requiring parental permission to be constitutional. “Although we accept that the federal government ordinarily might not compel college student to get involved in the Pledge, e.g., Barnette, we additionally recognize that a parent"s appropriate to interfere v the desire of his boy is more powerful than a public school official"s appropriate to interfere on instead of of the school"s own interest,” the court said in an unsigned opinion. “Most important, the statute ultimately leaves it come the parental whether a schoolchild will certainly pledge or not,” the court explained. 

The United claims Supreme Court didn’t give an very nice one in Frazier v. Winn. However, in 2010, Florida’s department of Education advised schools the opinion left open up “the opportunity that the parental consent requirement have the right to differ, or might not apply at all, relying on the maturity of the student.”

Even for the many “fixed star” amongst Supreme Court decisions, the inquiry over the Pledge that Allegiance is not entirely worked out today, at the very least in Florida.