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PA Students Not Required to Pledge Allegiance

Pennsylvania elementary through high school students can no longer be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In a stunning, but perhaps legally correct decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the requirement violates students' free-speech rights and the right of private schools to "free expressive association."

Just last year the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law requiring all students to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. Act 157 went into law in late 2002, as a reaction to September 11.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that there are 29 states (free registration required to access link) that have similar laws, although PA's may be the most stringent. The plaintiff in the case, a coalition of public and private schools, complained in oral argument, "The Pledge of Allegiance is exactly what it says: a pledge, an oath" ... and it was an example of "compelled speech" that violates the First Amendment rights of students.

Does this mean witnesses in court can't be required to swear an oath to tell the truth?

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, August 20, 2004 at 10:21 Comments Closed (2) |
 
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