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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

The United States Supreme Court won’t take up a case filed on behalf of a Florida high schooler that questions whether public school students have the right to refuse to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The case, Cameron Frazier v. Eric J. Smith, challenges a Florida law that requires all public school students to stand and recite the pledge, unless excused in writing by a parent. In 2005, Cameron Frazier, a Boynton Beach high school student, refused to stand and recite the pledge as a protest of the war in Iraq.

He “was singled out, humiliated in front of his classmates, and removed from class for remaining quietly seated during the Pledge of Allegiance because of his personal beliefs and convictions,” his lawyers wrote in a brief to the Supreme Court.

Frazier successfully sued school officials in district court, which found the law was a violation of his First Amendment rights. The state appealed, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was slightly unclear in its ruling.

The appeals court held that a school could not require a student to stand for the pledge, but also ruled that schools could punish a student who did not say the pledge unless the student's parents had given written permission for them to abstain.

The Florida American Civil Liberties Union took on the case, hoping the courts would completely strike down the law that permits school districts to make the pledge mandatory.

Randall Marshall, legal director of the ACLU of Florida said Monday it was disappointing that the high court chose not to hear the case, and that the lack of clarity is practically “inviting a lawsuit” from students who are disciplined for not reciting the pledge.

“It's hard to imagine how this statute can be applied to any high school student to begin with,” he said. “I think it probably flows to junior high students as well. So the only thing left open is, can it constitutionally be applied to a grade schooler?”

Scott Makar, Florida’s solicitor general, urged the court to refuse the case in his brief responding to the ACLU's petition and wrote that the state fully recognizes that students have legal rights, just more limited ones as minors.

“Notably, each state has parental consent requirements related to many questions that arise in a child’s school experience,” Makar wrote. “These questions span the gamut from important curricular decisions about what classes parents allow their children to take (or to not take) to whether parents consent to the school infirmary dispensing an aspirin tablet to an ill child.”

3 Responses »

  1. " “was singled out, humiliated in front of his classmates, and removed from class for remaining quietly seated during the Pledge of Allegiance because of his personal beliefs and convictions,”

    Seems to me, that this young man singled himself out when he chose to take a stand (actually "keep his seat"). He made his statment. Had he not wanted to be singled out, he wouldn't have made the decision to protest. Thats what a protest is: bringing focus onto yourself, and vicariously onto your issue or concern.
    The premise is a ruse.

    • the key here is that he was removed from the class. If it was just a matter of ridicule I would agree, but it is not.

  2. I'd say he was removed because he didnt have written permission to recuse from the pledge. When you protest something, you purposfully make a spectacle of yourself: again to draw attention to your cause or issue. The boy succeeded. It's folly and irresponsible to teach a child that their actions don't come with consequences: which is what this young man learned. And now that he won't be getting any money out of it: I'd say it will be a lesson that will stick for the rest of his life.
    Well done, school board!