From AATTP contributor, Sky Palma
In another bizarre chapter of Arizona politics, it was reported this week that a new proposed law would require students to swear an oath to God (we’re assuming Judeo-Christian) and the Constitution — all as a requirement to graduate high school.
Blogger Kevin Bondelli points out an interesting irony in this debacle:
I am fairly certain requiring a public high school student to swear an oath to God to graduate would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution that they are trying to force these students to swear to support and defend. This paradoxically means that in order to actually support and defend the Constitution, you have to refuse to take this oath to support and defend the Constitution.
The politicians (all Republican and some freshman Tea Party members) behind the bill are Representatives Bob Thorpe, Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, Jeff Dial, David Livingston, Chester Crandell, and Steve Smith. As required under church-state separation, exemptions are made available should people not want to participate. But no such exemption exists with this legislation.
American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham explained, “You can’t require students to attend school and then require them to either pledge allegiance to the flag or swear this loyalty oath in order to graduate. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.”
On the heels of two election cycles where Tea Party factions came to prominence spouting rhetoric that included the words “fascism” and “socialism”, it’s hard to ignore the historical relevance that loyalty oaths had in totalitarian regimes throughout history.