North Texas Couple Attacks “Under God” Wording in Texas Pledge of Allegiance

The Texas Legislature originally passed a law establishing the Texas Pledge of Allegiance in 1933 and added the words “under God” in 2007. While state law required schoolchildren to recite the pledge every morning, parents could opt their children out of reciting the pledge by submitting a written request.

In 2007, a North Texas couple filed a lawsuit against then-Texas Governor Rick Perry. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance and asked for an injunction banning its use.

The couple filed the lawsuit on behalf of their three children who attended the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. The couple claimed the state pledge violated the “separation of church and state.” (In a separate case, the same couple also challenged Texas’ “Moment of Silence” law, which allowed students a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day. First Liberty also argued alongside the Solicitor General of Texas to defend the law in that case.)

Legal Action

In 2009, a federal district court in Dallas rejected the couple’s challenge of the Texas Pledge of Allegiance. However, the couple appealed their loss to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In April 2010, First Liberty joined the Solicitor General of the State of Texas in arguing the case before the Fifth Circuit. First Liberty argued on behalf of The American Legion Department of Texas.

On October 13, 2010, the Fifth Circuit upheld the “one state under God” wording in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance. The court found that the Texas pledge—and specifically the phrase “under God”—was constitutional.

The phrase “under God” is not an endorsement of any particular religion, First Liberty attorneys point out. Instead, the phrase is a significant, voluntary affirmation that acknowledges the place religion holds in the lives of it’s private citizens. For many, reciting the Texas Pledge of Allegiance is a patriotic exercise.

As the United States Supreme Court recognized in 2005 in Van Orden v. Perry, “[f]rom at least 1789, there has been an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of religion’s role in American life.”

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