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Texas AG Pushes Back on Teen's Suit Over Pledge

It's an unusual move for an attorney general to make, the expelled girl's lawyer says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2018 12:32 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Thinkstock Images)

(Newser) – A black teen's lawsuit against a Texas school district over her refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance has spurred what her lawyer calls a "rare" move from the state's attorney general. The BBC reports on how India Landry, now 18, was expelled last October from Houston's Windfern High School after she wouldn't stand for the pledge, a move she says was inspired by NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. "I don't believe the flag is for what it says it's for," Landry said last year, per KHOU. "For liberty and justice and all that." Her complaint filed against the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District says her rights to free speech and due process were violated, and also claims the school's principal, vice principal, and other staffers treated her unfairly because she's black.

But state AG Ken Paxton backs the school district, citing in a release a state statute that requires a parental letter for a child to opt out of the pledge and noting that "school children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate." He adds: "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." The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students can't be forced to get up for the pledge, though Texas and other states do have such statutes requiring parental permission. Landry's attorney, Randall Kallinen, tells the Houston Chronicle that Paxton's reasoning doesn't fly, as Landry's mother supports her decision not to stand for the pledge. Kallinen's theory on why Paxton is intervening, as the AG doesn't usually get involved in civil rights cases: "It's election time." (Read more Texas stories.)

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