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Texas School Acknowledges It Cannot Force Students to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

She was expelled and filed a federal suit. Texas' attorney general ignored the Constitution and defended the school.

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Kids reciting pledge
Roman Halanski / Dreamstime.com

School district officials in Texas have settled with a student who sued for her right not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District has acknowledged her right to sit and promises to inform future students that they also have the right to refuse to stand, according to the Houston Chronicle.

India Landry, a student at Windfern High School in Harris County, Texas, was expelled from the school because she refused to stand for the pledge, showing her support for NFL players who had been kneeling to protest police violence. She sued last fall, arguing that the expulsion was racially motivated and violated her constitutional rights.

Supreme Court precedents appear to be entirely on her side with rulings going all the way back to 1943. Public schools can't force students to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It's compelled speech that violates the student's First Amendment rights.

But apparently the school district put a policy in place where students were required to get official written permission from their parents in order to refuse to stand for the pledge. That's not how the First Amendment works, but in any event Landry's mother has supported her this whole time.

The fight became a national news story because Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton publicly took the school district's side in defiance of years of Constitutional law. He quoted precedents from Supreme Court decisions on the school district's behalf, but very strangely, the case he cited saw the Supreme Court uphold a citizen's right to desecrate the flag.

In any event, it's terrible that it took so much time, effort, and attention for the school district to acknowledge that it has no authority to force students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.