Pennsylvania adopted a statute that required the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem at the beginning of each school day. The statute specifically noted that students could decline to participate, but went on to say that the school would then be required to give written notice of this to the parents.
The Third Circuit held that the parental notification provision was unconstitutional. The court held that the statute required schools to engage in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination:
Pennsylvania’s parental notification clause clearly discriminates among students based on the viewpoints they express; it is “only triggered when a student exercises his or her First Amendment right not to speak.” (Quoting from the district court’s decision).
This is a right that belongs to the student. The court viewed the parental notification requirement as an obstacle to the exercise of that right. An unconstitutional obstacle.
The case is The Circle School v. Pappert, decided by the Third Circuit on August 19, 2004. We found it at 381 F.3d 172.
DAWG BONE: REGARDING THE PLEDGE AND STUDENT REFUSAL: KIDS 3—SCHOOLS 0. BUT TUNE IN TOMORROW!
Tomorrow: OK, kids can refuse to say the Pledge, can raise a fist in protest, and we can’t tell the parents. But they have to stand up, right?