Texas Attorney General’s Office defends Texas Pledge of Allegiance

Released by the Texas Attorney General's Office:

NEW ORLEANS – Texas Solicitor General James Ho today appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where he defended the constitutionality of the Texas Pledge of Allegiance.

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 – and the federal district court found that the Texas Pledge is entirely constitutional.

After the federal district judge issued its decision rejecting the plaintiffs' challenge in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed the adverse ruling to the Fifth Circuit. Solicitor General Ho today urged the Fifth Circuit to deny the plaintiffs' appeal and affirm the Texas Pledge's constitutionality.

In its brief defending the Texas Pledge, the Office of the Attorney General explains that "patriotic acknowledgments of religion are constitutional." The state's brief reiterates 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."

The attorney general 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."

"As the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged, reciting the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is an appropriate and constitutional way to begin each school day on the right note," Solicitor General Ho said. "The Texas Pledge of Allegiance serves precisely the same function – to give students an opportunity to engage in a patriotic acknowledgement of the religious heritage of our state and our nation."

The Texas pledge, as amended in 2007, reads: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."