Required to stand for the Pledge?

Berg, Thomas C. TCBERG at
Fri Sep 10 23:06:53 PDT 2004

Steve Smith's article "Barnette's Big Blunder" (78 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 625
(2003)) directly addresses this question and argues pretty convincingly, as
I remember, that the passage quoted below is misguided if it is read
precisely as written.  The government  "decide[s] what shall be orthodox in
politics" all the time, in the sense of advancing policies and attempting to
convince the public that they are right.  Steve shows that the connective
word "or" in the passage below should be replaced by "and":  what government
is forbidden to do is <declare a political orthodoxy *and* force others to
confess it>.
Tom Berg
University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)


From: Robert O'Brien [mailto:obrien at]
Sent: Fri 9/10/2004 8:03 PM
To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
Subject: Re: Required to stand for the Pledge?

>     Mark Scarberry is dead on; the school can attempt to persuade the 
> student to say the secular parts of the Pledge.  Government can lead 
> opinion, or attempt to, on secular matters, but not on religious 
> matters. 

Does this not conflict with the key passage of Barnette:  "No public 
official, high or petty, can decide what shall be orthodox in politics, 
nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force others to 
confess their faith therein by word or deed"? 

Bob O'Brien 

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