Kid misrecites the Pledge of Allegiance - can he be gradeddown for that?

Marc Stern mstern at
Fri Aug 29 07:45:26 PDT 2008

To the extent that the assignment is to explicate the text as enacted by congress' I think the student must comply although he is free to indicate his views about the unconstitutionality of the phrase
I agree with doug about the decoration,although few teachers can be expected to understand -if it were my client_who is objecting not to the whole pledge as in barnette
 but only the phrase under god - I would probably advise to devise a decoration that pointedly left out religious references.
Marc stern

----- Original Message -----
From: religionlaw-bounces at <religionlaw-bounces at>
To: religionlaw at <religionlaw at>
Sent: Fri Aug 29 09:48:57 2008
Subject: Re: Kid misrecites the Pledge of Allegiance - can he be gradeddown for that?

I would argue that the requirement to decorate the assignment indicates that this is celebrating or honoring the text, and thus more like an affirmation than like a mere requirement that he prove that he knows the official text.  And therefore, covered by West Virginia v. Barnette, 324 U.S 629 (1943).  He doesn't have to do it. 

Quoting Ed Darrell <edarrell at>:

> Here's a not hypothetical hypothetical for you.  A family calls you 
> late on a Thursday night for advice on an odd point -- their son 
> thinks the Pledge of Allegiance is too religious, and has arrived at 
> an odd compromise that works for him in school.  But now he has to 
> write out what it is he says.
> How would you advise the family in this case below?
> I've become aware of a family who has a child who recites the pledge
> of allegiance by saying "under law" instead of "under God."
> Apparently no one has ever noticed.
> But tonight he has homework to write the pledge of allegiance on paper
> and to decorate it.  This family is asking what legal ramifications
> there might be should a teacher take issue with the child writing
> "under law" instead of "under God."
> The homework is due tomorrow, Friday.  Can anyone provide anything
> helpful that I can convey to the family?  Thanks!
> Not my case, I'm grateful to say.  Not my homework, either.
> What should the parents do?
> Ed Darrell
> Dallas


Douglas Laycock
Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School
625 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1215

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