This is actually an update to a story that started over a year ago. You might remember it from some of the TV coverage at the time, but in case you don’t, here is one story about it:
So, the girl was supposed to say the Mexican pledge, and sing the Mexican National Anthem. She didn’t, and failed. She has now filed suit, and I will address that below, but about the pledge and anthem, there are two things that deserve note.
Regarding the pledge, it is interesting to note that had this girl been required to salute the US Flag and do the pledge, this would have been unquestionably unconstitutional. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624(1943) that compulsory requirements to pledge to the flag by school children violated the first Amendment. It’s astonishing to me that this school district somehow thought that a compulsory pledge to another flag would somehow by just fine. Further, as my friend Dr. John Fonte noted in a November 2005 piece entitled “Dual Allegiance: A Challenge to Immigration Reform and Patriotic Assimilation“:
Dual allegiance is incompatible with the moral basis of American constitutional democracy because 1) Dual allegiance challenges our core foundation as a civic nation (built on political loyalty) by promoting an ethnic and racial basis for allegiance and, thus, subverts our “nation of (assimilated) immigrants” ethic; and 2) Dual allegiance violates the core American principle of equality of citizenship.
So the pledge is bad. Arguably worse though is the Mexican National Anthem, which contains in the First and Fith stanzas these lines:
But if some enemy outlander should dare to profane your ground with his sole, think, oh beloved Fatherland!, that heaven has given you a soldier in every son….War, war without quarter to any who dare to tarnish the coats of arms of the country! War, war! Let the national banners be soaked in waves of blood. War, war! In the mountain, in the valley, let the cannons thunder in horrid unison and may the sonorous echoes resound with cries of Union! Liberty!
Now, I have no big problem with the martial nature of the lyrics, since our National Anthem is not especially peace-like either. But then again, we don’t force British folk to sing our national anthem. The Mexican National Anthem was written in 1854, and all the stuff about war is a direct reference to the battles they had just held with the Americans. So basically this Texas high school, whose inclusion into the United States is what started this war in the first place, is requiring this young lady to sing a song which glorifies the killing of 13,283 US Citizens. That to me is unconscionable. (If you want to learn more about that war, I recommend to you Jeff Shaara’s Gone for Soldiers which I happened to be rereading just as this story came out again.)
So flash forward to yesterday when an excellent piece by Todd Starnes of FoxNews noted that the young lady had filed suit against the school:
A Texas high school student has filed a federal lawsuit against her school and her teachers after she was punished for refusing to salute and recite the Mexican pledge of allegiance.
The Thomas More Law Center filed the suit on behalf of Brenda Brinsdon alleging the McAllen Independent School District violated the 15-year-old girl’s constitutional rights when she was forced to recite the Mexican pledge and sing the Mexican national anthem.
Click here to read the lawsuit.
Brinsdon, who is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and an American father, refused. She believed it was un-American to pledge a loyalty oath to another country.
I can’t even begin to imagine what this school was thinking. They did offer her an alternative, to write a 1/2 page paper on a subject in Spanish. She did that and received an F. I’m honestly REALLY looking forward to seeing the School District’s response to this suit. (Legal response that is.) On what possible basis can they defend?
The complaint is fairly interesting reading if you are a law geek like me. It notes:
This case seeks to protect and vindicate fundamental constitutional rights. It is a civil rights action brought under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging Defendants’ acts, policies, practices, customs, and/or procedures, which deprived Plaintiff B.B. of her right to freedom of speech and the equal protection of the law by discriminating against her because of her viewpoint on the issue of being forced to pledge allegiance to the Mexican flag. These acts, policies, practices, customs, and/or procedures also infringe the constitutional rights of other students in the school district, including Plaintiff B.B., by chilling the exercise of their right to freedom of speech.
And here’s where the people of Texas get to be even more outraged……Taxpayers there will get to pay for the School District’s lawyers, the lawyers for the young lady, and any damages that are levied as a result. Any time a governmental entity (like the school district) loses a case brought under § 1983, the city will end up paying for both lawyers if the petitioner wins.
Now, this particular provision (the fee shifting) has been targetted by The American Legion before, largely for it’s somewhat nefarious use in trying to bully cities into excising from public view all religious symbols. (For example, a California City whose crest had a cross atop a historical church ended up having to drill holes in the crest on police cars to avoid paying the ACLU gobs of money.) During a discussion in Congress regarding the Public Expression of Religion Act in 2006, Congressman Chabot of Ohio noted:
PERA amends 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983 and 1988 to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that extorts money from State and local governments and inhibits their constitutional actions. Federal statute 42 U.S.C. 1983 is the statute that allows people to sue State and local governments for alleged constitutional violations of their individual rights. Federal statute 42 U.S.C. 1988 is the Federal fee-shifting statute that allows prevailing plaintiffs in lawsuits filed under 1983 to be awarded attorney’s fees from the defendant. And the defendant in that case would generally be a governmental entity.
Because of these laws, the threat of litigation against State and local officials alleging that they have violated the Establishment Clause often forces States and localities to cave to demands to remove even the smallest religious references on public property. Most localities do not have the money to pay for not only their own, but also the plaintiff’s, attorney’s fees if they receive an adverse judgment. And Establishment Clause case law is oftentimes so confusing and the outcome in these cases so unpredictable that it is virtually impossible for a locality to foresee the outcome in any given case.
PERA will level the playing field against groups such as the ACLU who have won millions of dollars in attorney’s fees while extorting State and local governments into suppressing the religious speech and free exercise of religion of private individuals, for example, tearing down veterans’ memorials that happen to have religious symbols on them, removing the Ten Commandments from public buildings, booting the Boy Scouts off public property, or blotting out crosses from official county seals. This happened in California.
So that’s where we stand. A school failed a girl for refusing to sing the Mexican National Anthem and say the pledge to a foreign flag, and now if (or when) she wins, it will be the taxpayers on the hook for an idiotic decision by a school board in not trying to settle this. Anyone know where the ACLU stands on this one? I would hope they would support the young lady, but I don’t see any mention of it anywhere in the news.
Only in America, eh?