Local boy wins pledge lawsuit
From today's Palm Beach Post-
WEST PALM BEACH — A federal judge has declared a state law requiring students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, stating it violated the rights of a Palm Beach County student who sued the state last year.Be careful Sen. Pruitt. The Post may call you the insane one in an editorial.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp also ruled unconstitutional the provision of the 1942 Florida law requiring students to obtain permission from their parents to be excused from reciting the pledge.
The American Civil Liberties Union cheered Ryskamp's decision as a landmark ruling that upholds all Florida students' free speech rights.
In December, Boynton Beach High School junior Cameron Frazier, 17, sued the state Department of Education, the Palm Beach County School Board, a teacher and an assistant principal, saying his rights were violated when the teacher berated him in front of his class when he refused to stand for the pledge.
The school board in February agreed to pay Frazier $32,500, a decision that drew vehement criticism from some parents and veterans groups. Board members also decided students did not have to stand for the pledge and did not need parental permission to opt out, saying they had been following state law in crafting their policy.
The school district's settlement was dependent on a judge declaring the law unconstitutional.
Ryskamp ordered the school district to halt the policy, but school district spokesman Nat Harrington said the ruling would have little impact because district schools already have posted notices to that effect. Ryskamp's order also requires the district to remove the policy from its student handbooks, which Harrington said is "in the works."
In his decision, Ryskamp cited a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a West Virginia law requiring students to salute and pledge to the flag violated their First and 14th Amendment rights.
Since that case, Ryskamp stated, "federal courts have established a body of case law that irrefutably recognizes the right of students to remain silent and seated during the pledge."
Ryskamp also rejected the state's argument that Frazier and the school board were misinterpreting the law, which state lawyers claimed allowed students to sit during the pledge with permission.
State Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, said the decision was "typical of the ACLU and activist judges combining to create another hit at our traditional values of our country."
"To let a 6- or 7- or 8-year-old decide, whether or not they have parental permission, is insane," he said.
Frazier could not be reached for comment Thursday, but he has said in a statement that he is patriotic and believes the meaning of the flag has been tarnished by the "recent policies of our government."I blogged about this before. My view was that Mr. Fraser needed to grow up. Do we have to make a constitutional case out of every greivance?
The ACLU emphasized that its challenge never sought to remove the pledge from the classroom, nor did it seek to change its content. Green said the case was about students' rights to "speak or not to speak."
Reading this article, it appears there was case law on this subject. If so Judge Ryskamp ruled correctly. Cameron Fraser you got your 15 minutes of fame. What will you do with the rest of your life?
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