When there is ‘justice for all,’ students will stand for Pledge
October 14, 2016
All around the country, students are refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Many schools and teachers have forced students to stand anyway, which is not only unconstitutional, but illegal. Students should be able to decide whether or not they want to stand for the pledge without feeling threatened by the school.
Football player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem before games has inspired many students, though some were doing it beforehand as well. The newfound media attention has led to outrage and condemnation of the protest, while it has also given rise to student protests. Like Kaepernick, this is often in protest of America’s treatment of minorities, an issue brought to public attention by the rise in coverage of police brutality against African Americans.
Students are not, required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, nor can schools force a student to stand or somehow alter their grade for not standing for the pledge. The 1943 Supreme Court case of Barnette vs. West Virginia Board of Education found both practices to infringe upon students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
As this case states, the right to freedom of speech and due process does not evaporate once a student enters the classroom. Students, while still legal minors, are able to make their own thoughts and opinions, and as such, are able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to participate in the Pledge.
Stories have arisen describing students being forced to stand for the pledge, even though it is illegal for them to do so. Teachers have been accused of trying to force children out of their seat, and other such violations of the aforementioned case. Victims have been able to successfully sue the schools.
“You can participate in the pledge if you feel like you want to, or you can sit if you feel like you want to…I mean, its really up to you, and it is in the constitution that you have freedom of speech,” junior Aurora Hively said. “If you were being forced to not have that right, and to not be able to speak for what you believe in, then that’s unconstitutional,” Hively added.
You can participate in the pledge if you feel like you want to, or you can sit if you feel like you want to…I mean, its really up to you, and it is in the constitution that you have freedom of speech. If you were being forced to not have that right, and to not be able to speak for what you believe in, then that’s unconstitutional.
— Aurora Hively
President Obama has also spoken out in defense of Kaepernick and those who choose not to stand for the Anthem or Pledge.
“Part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion,” Obama said at the CNN Presidential Town Hall. “And the test to our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to the Bill of Rights, is not when its easy, but when its hard.”
The outrage which has arisen from protests is just as deafening as the support. Popular opinion among the objections is that is is offensive and disrespectful to veterans and those who fought for our country.
“I just think its really disrespectful… it’s a way of showing respect for your country,” sophomore Bryn Carter explained. “They’re just trying to prove a point.”
Even though the flag represents so much more than only veterans, many seem to only focus on that. While recognizing that those who fought for the US deserve respect, trying to force someone to stand for the pledge is a violation of the First Amendment, the very concept on which America was founded. The US was built on slavery and the genocide of Native peoples, and to trying silence those who speak out in their defense is to further oppress them. America has come too far to allow that to be our marching order for the new millennium.