The Third Circuit has just upheld a decision striking down a Pennsylvania law requiring that stundents say the Pledge of Allegiance every day as well as sing the national anthem. If they refused, the school notified the student's parents. The Court found (opinion) that the parental notification provision had a chilling effect on the students free speech rights. As this article notes:
The judges concluded that the parental notification provision amounts to viewpoint discrimination, as the provision is only triggered when a student refrains from recitation and not when a student willingly participates in it.
"As the district court correctly pointed out ... a parental notification clause that is limited only to parents of students who refuse to engage in such recitation may have been purposefully drafted to 'chill speech by providing a disincentive to opting out of [the] Act,'" Sloviter wrote, quoting Kelly's July 2003 opinion.
The power of the Pledge is such that the judges felt the need to throw in this affirmation of it in the closing of the opinion:
"It may be useful to note our belief that most citizens of the United States willingly recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proudly sing the national anthem," Judge Dolores K. Sloviter wrote in The Circle School v. Pappert. "But the rights embodied in the Constitution, most particularly in the First Amendment, protect the minority -- those persons who march to their own drummers. It is they who need the protection afforded by the Constitution and it is the responsibility of federal judges to ensure that protection."
Regardless the opinion is a triumph of the substance of liberty over the form of rote patriotism.
The article goes on to state:
Frankel and plaintiffs' attorney Twersky called Act 157 the most restrictive Pledge of Allegiance-compelling statute in the country.
Ahh apparently they have not seen the Texas Pledge Statute. None of this wimpy "parental notification" Instead the student cannot refuse without parental permission:
§ 25.082. SCHOOL DAY; PLEDGES OF ALLEGIANCE; MINUTE OF SILENCE. (a) A school day shall be at least seven hours each day, including intermissions and recesses. (b) The board of trustees of each school district shall require students, once during each school day at each school in the district, to recite: (1) the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag in accordance with 4 U.S.C. Section 4, and its subsequent amendments; and (2) the pledge of allegiance to the state flag in accordance with Subchapter C, Chapter 3100, Government Code. (c) On written request from a student's parent or guardian, a school district shall excuse the student from reciting a pledge of allegiance under Subsection (b).
I don't know if there is a current challenge to the statute, but if the Pennsylvania Statute is unconstitutional because it abridges the students free speech rights, then the Texas statute is clearly also unconstitutional, as it does not even leave the student ANY choice.
via How Appealing