Requiring Mexican pledge is OK


The First Amendment protects students against being forced to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance — but not against being required to recite the Mexican pledge, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

How can that be? Reciting the Mexican pledge was class participation, not symbolic speech, writes Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, on Bloomberg View.

In 2011, at a McAllen, Texas high school, Spanish teacher Reyna Santos told students to memorize and recite the Mexican Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem for a celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

Santos later testified the exercise was designed to build cultural awareness and language fluency.

Brenda Brinsdon, whose mother is from Mexico, objected. After appealing to the principal, she was given a writing assignment. (She received a C, while nearly everyone who took the pledge got an A.)

Using a “spy pen,” she recorded classmates taking the pledge and her father alerted the media. Brinsdon was removed from Spanish class as a disruptive influence. She completed Spanish III as an independent study in the principal’s office.