Texas state officials have intervened in a dispute over the Pledge of Allegiance, backing a local school district’s expulsion of a student who sat during it.
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a notice to intervene in a civil-rights lawsuit brought against Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, arguing that “school children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge.”
Katy student India Landry was expelled from Windfern High School last fall for refusing to participate in the pledge, saying she’d been inspired by the NFL players such as Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem and flag displays to protest police brutality.
With the support of her parents, Miss Landry, who is black, then sued the CyFair ISD saying the expulsion violated her free-speech rights and was racially motivated.
The attorney general’s filing, according to the Chronicle, cites a Supreme Court finding that government can back “the national flag as an unalloyed symbol of our country.”
“The United States flag represents the values of liberty and justice that form the foundation of this country and are defended by our armed forces,” Mr. Paxton’s court filing reads. “It is thus deserving of the highest levels of reverence and respect, which is expressed through every recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Texas law allows parents to submit a letter claiming an exemption from standing for the pledge, but it apparently wasn’t filed by Miss Landry’s parents. The Texas law says standing for the pledge is mandatory otherwise, the Chronicle reported, citing court papers.
Landry attorney Randall L. Kallinen, called Mr. Paxton’s actions unusual and chalked it up to politicking.
“The reason he’s challenging this case is that it’s election time,” Mr. Kallinen told the Chronicle. “It’s an attempt to rally the troops.”