Federal judge strikes down Florida Pledge of Allegiance recitation requirement

Federal judge strikes down Florida Pledge of Allegiance recitation requirement

[JURIST] A federal district judge sitting in Florida has ruled [PDF; ACLU press release] that a Pledge of Allegiance [Wikipedia backgrounder; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional and that a student does not need a parent's permission to be excused from reciting the Pledge. Boynton Beach junior Cameron Frazier sued [complaint, PDF] the Palm Beach County School Board [district website] last year on grounds that forcing him to stand and recite the Pledge was unconstitutional, and complained that his teacher reproached him in front of classmates when Frazier refused to stand and recite the Pledge. The school board in February agreed to pay [North County Gazette report] Frazier $32,500 and stopped requiring students to stand for the Pledge until Frazier's case was resolved.

Judge Kenneth Ryskamp of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] cited West Virginia v. Barnette [text], the 1943 US Supreme Court decision that struck down a law requiring students to salute and pledge to the flag, stating that federal case law recognizes a student's right not to stand and recite the Pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance has made national headlines in recent years, sparking debate over whether the words "under God" included in the Pledge constitute an endorsement of religion under the Establishment Clause [overview] of the First Amendment. Frazier's case, however, did not involve the constitutionality of the Pledge itself, but rather the right to refuse to recite it. The Palm Beach Post has more.