ONTD Political

2 Arizona bills push patriotic oaths in schools

5:41 pm - 01/26/2013
Two state representatives have proposed bills requiring Arizona students to show more respect for their country in a move that is stirring constitutional arguments and a threat of lawsuits.

All public high-school seniors would have to recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution to be able to graduate, under a proposal in House Bill 2467 sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff.

And all students in first through 12th grades would have to say the pledge of allegiance each day if House Bill 2284, sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, passes.

Under current law, schools must set aside time for the pledge each day, but students may choose whether to participate.

Political insiders say it is too early in the session, which began Jan. 14, to predict where the new Legislature may land on such issues.

While both the House and Senate have more Democrats this year, diluting the power of “tea party” Republicans who promote patriotic issues, the GOP still maintains control of both chambers.

Smith, a self-proclaimed member of the tea party with a history of sponsoring anti-illegal-immigration measures, said he introduced the legislation in response to a Maricopa high-school student who last year reported feeling mocked and embarrassed after she was the only one in her class to stand and say the pledge.

“Is this bill going to move heaven and Earth? No,” Smith said. “But it’s important that our kids do this.”

Since filing his bill, Thorpe is having second thoughts about the reach of his proposal and concerns about reaction from students, and says he is planning to amend his oath bill to make it optional and not mandatory.

“Since developing this idea, it has continued to evolve,” the freshman lawmaker said via e-mail. “In that we had a tight deadline for dropping our bills, I was not able to update the language.”

He said his decision to amend the bill is not due to any concerns about its legality.

“Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with,” he said. “Being a father of two, I also realistically understand that some students will embrace this more than others.”

But he said he continues to support the underlying idea.

“Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military,” he said.

“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”

Both bills, if they were to become law in their current form, would face legal challenges.

“Both bills are clearly unconstitutional, ironically enough,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham. “You can’t require students to attend school ... and then require them to either pledge allegiance to the flag or swear this loyalty oath in order to graduate. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.”

If the Legislature passes the bills and Gov. Jan Brewer signs them into law, Abraham predicts the courts will overturn the laws. She said there is legal case precedent that clearly deems such acts unconstitutional.

“It’s a waste of time and resources for the taxpayers,” she said.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, called the bills “ridiculous.”

“These legislators who believe they are teaching the Constitution to students are not following the Constitution themselves when they introduce bills that are unconstitutional,” he said.

nova_night 27th-Jan-2013 01:30 am (UTC)
So in what type of world do those people live in?

Because I can tell you when I was in high school I didn't care about the pledge of allegiance or its meaning. They where just meaningless words that I had to say and then I moved in with my day so all that going to happen is that people will memorize this oath but not care about it at all.

Edit: Fixed some spelling.

Edited at 2013-01-27 01:32 am (UTC)
tabaqui 27th-Jan-2013 02:33 am (UTC)
For fuck's sake. You attend the amount of days (hopefully all the days) that are required, you get a passing grade in each class - you graduate!

Don't stick some stupid-ass, meaningless 'pledge' on there. Minors can't 'pledge' anything, to begin with, and frankly, I'd tell 'em fuck off.

So sick of these fucking people.

I can't remember when we said the pledge in school - i know we didn't do it in middle school or higher, not sure if we did it in the last few years of grade school. I know my daughter doesn't say it, and hasn't for years.
bella_cheval 27th-Jan-2013 03:10 am (UTC)
I don't even know where to begin raging against this asswipe. WTF is up with Arizona these days?
tabaqui 27th-Jan-2013 04:17 am (UTC)
Bad water. Bad brains. Something. It's kind of scary.

I love your icon - so pretty!
matryoshka 27th-Jan-2013 05:49 am (UTC)
Every time I read a news item about Arizona, I'm suddenly glad to live in Oklahoma. I mean, I know my state's got a shitload of problems, but I'm always left feeling rather flabbergasted by the amount of legislative fuckery that's come out of Arizona within the last several years.
corinn 27th-Jan-2013 04:08 am (UTC)
I can't remember when we said the pledge in school - i know we didn't do it in middle school or higher, not sure if we did it in the last few years of grade school. I know my daughter doesn't say it, and hasn't for years.

In middle school in SoCal the principal got on the intercom in the morning and everyone said it together. It was the same in high school. I remember my senior year US Government teacher being peeved with me for pausing in silence for the "under God" part.
tabaqui 27th-Jan-2013 04:15 am (UTC)
Huh. They don't even do it here, and probably over half the kids at my daughter's school are off the military base. Interesting.

I never said the 'god' part - pissed people off.
wrestlingdog 27th-Jan-2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
I did the same thing in high school, but I don't remember anyone calling me out on skipping "under God."
mickeym 27th-Jan-2013 05:41 am (UTC)
That's a good point about minors -- because definitely, not every student graduating is 18 yet.

I know they do the pledge at my son's high school; I've been there in the mornings a couple of times when it's read over the loud speaker. The folks in the office stand and recite along with it; I don't know about in the classrooms. (I have no idea if it makes any difference, but we're in Kentucky. Maybe it's a conservative state thing?)

But no one, especially minors, should be forced to recite an oath of allegiance, especially if it contains language that states it's done so freely, without coercion.
tabaqui 27th-Jan-2013 05:46 am (UTC)
Exactly. Forcing someone to pledge something is kinda counterproductive.
betray802 27th-Jan-2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
We had to repeat it every day in grade school (1-5). They finally let up once we hit junior high.

And it for damn sure didn't make anyone I went to school with 'better people.' My peers who joined the military after graduation did so not out of any sort of patriotism, but because it was a quick ticket out of town, if you couldn't immediately (or ever!) afford college.
strixluna 27th-Jan-2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
I started first grade in 1982 in VT. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning throughout elementary school. In 7th grade we moved up to the high school (junior high and high school were in the same building) and it was said at our Monday morning school-wide assemblies. It was in 7th grade that I first recall anyone ever saying that we didn't need to say it if we didn't want too but our principal did ask the everyone stand politely even if they didn't recite it.
romp 27th-Jan-2013 03:26 am (UTC)
I suspect there's an inverse relationship between the health of a nation and their number of patriotic oaths
corinn 27th-Jan-2013 03:59 am (UTC)
“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”

Ideally, their US History and US Government classes should have taken care of that by the time graduation rolls around. If they haven't, repeating a couple sentences some government official made up won't do anything.

You want to encourage interest in the Constitution and government, maybe propose an initiative to have field trips to visit a city council meeting or the local courthouse and maybe see a tame trial or hearing of a civil tort. That last one actually happened in my 6th grade class in California before budget cuts hit in the late 90s. Or maybe fine congresscritters such as yourself can make a program where you visit schools or invite students of a certain grade level to one of your congresscritter events to get them interested.

Oh, wait. That actually involves funding and effort and coordinating with teachers and schools. You want to do something cheap and easy that appeals to your base like propaganda. Whoops!
mickeym 27th-Jan-2013 05:43 am (UTC)
Actual work on the part of the congresscritter (and how much do I love that word? *g*)? Surely you jest!
silver_apples 27th-Jan-2013 04:56 am (UTC)
I didn't think about what the pledge meant until long after I left school.

In high school I knew what it meant, but in elemenetry school, much of it was meaningless. I thought it was "under God, invisible" because God is invisible. Then I realized that that wasn't what people were saying, so changed it to "invincible", which made as much sense. No one ever taught me what the words meant, so it was just meaningless recitation. And I know that's true for a lot of kids, and probably a fair number of adults.

EDIT: Hit the wrong key and posted before done typing.

Edited at 2013-01-27 04:59 am (UTC)
silver_apples 27th-Jan-2013 05:07 am (UTC)
Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military

Who have all chosen careers involving upholding the Constitution. High school students have not. This is just another hoop for them to jump through, and it would be a completely meaningless oath to many of them. If anything, it will make them lose respect for the people who made it a requirement, and devalue the oaths made by politicians, law enforcement, and military personnel--after all, it's the same oath sworn by 17-year-olds who just want their diploma so they can get out of there.
moonshaz 27th-Jan-2013 05:18 am (UTC)
I'd love to know the wording of that so-called "oath" in Thorpe's bill. I was hoping the source would include it, but I didn't see it there. (Granted, I skimmed through pretty fast, but still...)
mickeym 27th-Jan-2013 05:48 am (UTC)
This is the wording:

I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

This is the link I saw it on: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/25/arizona-republicans-propose-bill-that-would-not-allow-atheists-to-graduate-high-school/
pleasure_past 27th-Jan-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
that I take this obligation freely

Hahaha no.
rhysande 27th-Jan-2013 09:07 pm (UTC)
MTE. If you have to take the oath to graduate from high school, which affects your ability to qualify for scholarships and grants, admission to many colleges and universities, and the types of jobs and pay rates available to you, it is an oath given under coercion.
mollywobbles867 27th-Jan-2013 05:37 am (UTC)
They are deluded.
hinoema 27th-Jan-2013 05:59 am (UTC)
IKR? Good luck getting the average Arizona student to spout that nonsense.

One thing about this state is that the legislature is absolutely not representative of the state as a whole. The rich white enclaves in Phoenix essentially elect the legislature, and the rest of us try to live with it.
yooperchild 27th-Jan-2013 06:08 am (UTC)
I teach in a district that does the pledge every morning...but it's been made INCREDIBLY clear (due to a past lawsuit probably)...that the students are not required to actually stand or say it. And if they don't, you can't make them or ask them why.

Most of the kids stand and do it, but some don't and as far as I know/seen, no one's ever given them problems about it.

(I know...cool story that adds nothing to the conversation really...but I just felt like sharing).
pleasure_past 27th-Jan-2013 04:04 pm (UTC)
That's good. In the districts I went to (one in Denver and the rest in southern Colorado in the 90s and 2000s), if you didn't say the pledge you got shamed and called on it by teachers and students alike, even if you weren't a United States citizen. There was quite a bit of uproar over our German foreign exchange students refusing to say it one year. It was ridiculous.
lizzy_someone 27th-Jan-2013 08:05 am (UTC)
What a fucking waste of a people-pleasing bill. Instead of making real, substantive educational policy, let's just wave the flag and talk about God a lot and the constituents will forget you're not getting anything useful done!

Not to mention that you will force my hypothetical future children to say "under God" in a public school over my dead body.
checkerdandy 27th-Jan-2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
There are quite a few Jehova's Witnesses in my hometown, so it was common to see people not standing up to say the Pledge.

I myself stopped saying it in high school, and no one ever gave me guff about it.
beuk 27th-Jan-2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was waiting for someone to mention the JWs
fluteaphrael 29th-Jan-2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
I am old enough to remember the suits in NY from the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Jews (we were Jewish,) about not requiring saying the pledge. At the end of that the option was "sit quietly, stand quietly, or if you really, really, really hate the idea, go into the hallway and wait quietly." But the absolute "nobody is required to say it," was made very, very clear.
eawen_penallion 27th-Jan-2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
This was posted on another blog I was reading, so I give credit to that writer, Fradiavolo:

This issue was addressed years ago by the Supremes in West Virginia state Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), where the Supreme Court
held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Writing for the majority,Justice Robert Jackson stated: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."
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