Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit defending the constitutionality of the Texas Pledge of Allegiance.
“Just as it is perfectly constitutional for Texas schoolchildren to pledge their allegiance to ‘one nation, under God,’ it is also constitutional for students to pledge their allegiance to ‘one state, under God,’” Attorney General Abbott said. “Despite multiple U.S. Supreme Court decisions finding that patriotic acknowledgments of the Almighty are constitutional – and a federal district court ruling rejecting their lawsuit – the plaintiffs are continuing their attack on the Texas Pledge. The Office of the Attorney General remains committed to protecting young Texans’ right to express their patriotism and recite the Texas Pledge of Allegiance each morning.”
In 2007, the Texas Legislature added the words “under God” to the Texas Pledge. That year, a Dallas couple filed a lawsuit arguing that the amended state pledge violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. During the trial, the Office of the Attorney General successfully argued that patriotic acknowledgments of the Almighty are completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution. After a federal district judge rejected the plaintiffs’ challenge in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed. In response, the attorney general is urging the Fifth Circuit to deny their appeals and affirm the Texas Pledge’s constitutionality.
In today’s brief, the attorney general reiterated that “patriotic acknowledgments of religion are constitutional.” The state’s brief explains that the plaintiffs’ challenge is “based on a proposition that this Court has repeatedly rejected, and indeed condemned as ‘frivolous’ – namely, that the inclusion of the words ‘under God’ somehow violates the Establishment Clause.”
Attorney General Abbott also rejects the plaintiffs’ argument that the Texas Pledge endorses a particular religious belief. On the contrary, the state explains, the Pledge “simply acknowledges, within a broader patriotic statement, a basic historic fact about our Nation: that religion was significant to our Founders and to their enduring political philosophy.”
The Texas pledge, amended in 2007, reads: “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”