A Texas state law forcing students to stand for the pledge of allegiance has been defended by Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said in a statement Tuesday that the pledge fostered "respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country."
His remark was in response to a Houston lawsuit filed last year on behalf of India Landry, a former Windfern High School student who was suspended for refusing to stand during the pledge, The HuffPost reported.
At the time, Landry was in the principal's office when the pledge came on over the intercom and she was told to stand, KHOU noted.
The student refused, stating that the flag stood for liberty and justice, which was not "what's going on in America today."
Landry's attorney, Randall Kallinen, said "the principal instantaneously kicked her out of school, this violated her First Amendment right."
In response, Landry and her family decided to sue the Cypress Fairbanks ISD school district.
Paxton has jumped in to defend state law, which gives parents the right to decide whether their children should recite the pledge at school or not.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution," Paxton said.
He noted that state law served to protect that interest "by giving the choice of whether an individual student will recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the student's parent or guardian."
He said that school children "cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge."
In response, Kallinen said Paxton's intervention was politically motivated.
"It is an election year and this was political right from the beginning," he said on Wednesday, according to the HuffPost.
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