Should Texas public school students be required to stand for the daily reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance?
1200 WOAI reports that emotional issue is now being debated in a federal courtroom.
The case involves a student in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD northwest of Houston, filed on behalf of a student who was suspended from school for remaining seated during the pledge.
While Texas is one of 25 states that require that the Pledge be recited at the start of the school day, the state law has an 'opt out' clause that allows students 'not to participate.'
But Texas Attorney GenEral Ken Paxton says 'not participating' means not reciting the pledge, not remaining seated.
“The Texas Legislature protected that interest by giving the choice of whether an individual student will recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the student’s parent or guardian. School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge," Paxton said.
Constitutional law scholar Gerald Treece of the South Texas College of Law told News Radio 1200 WOAI Paxton may be on shaky ground. He says refusal to speak has been held to be 'protected speech' under the First Amendment.
"State law does at least allow an opt out for not saying anything," he said. "But sometimes speech is conduct, expression is conduct. That's why I think the student has a valid argument. It may not prevail, but I think its a valid argument."
“Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country,” he said.
This has already being called the 'Colin Kaepernick Case,' after the former NFL player who kneeled during the National Anthem.
"Some students who don't respect what the flag stands for are told to stand anyway," Treece said. "It is not popular to say this, but the student does have some rights."