Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has announced he will defend a state law mandating that every student stand during the reciting of the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
Almost a year ago, 17-year old India Landry, a high school senior in the Cypress-Fairbanks school district near Houston, was expelled for refusing to stand during the pledge.
The Texas Education Code says school districts must require a student to recite the pledge once a day.
But that same law also allows a student to stand and opt out of reciting the pledge if they have written permission from a parent or guardian.
Attorneys representing Landry argue the law, even with the opt-out option, violates a student’s constitutional rights.
Gerald Treece, who teaches constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said the case involves “coerced political speech.”
“They are saying I’m being coerced into standing which gives the appearance that I support all the things the flag stands for,” Treece said.
Treece said Landry’s attorneys have a valid argument for how the law has the potential to violate any person’s constitutional rights.
“State law does at least allow an opt-out for saying anything, but sometimes speech is conduct, expression is conduct, and that’s why I think the student has a valid argument. (She) may not prevail, but it’s a valid argument,” Treece said.
Paxton, in a statement, said, “Requiring the pledge to be recited fosters respect for the flag."
The case is scheduled to come before a federal judge in 2019