A bill in the Arizona state house would require public school students to swear an oath to defend the constitution in order to receive their diplomas. Arizona bill HB 2467 was sponsored by Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe, who told Current that the idea for the legislation came out of a campaign event and was a response to constituents who are concerned about patriotism and the Constitution.
Perhaps that’s where Thorpe’s bill disconnects with me; I've never been worried about someone else’s patriotism. Did you ever think that might just be the problem with conservatives?
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose or evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; so help me God.”
Secondly, Thorpe’s thinking hearkens back to a time when the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government, giving the states the ability to take those same rights away. But since 1925, the Supreme Court now protects the Bill of Rights at the state level as well. Thorpe would try to reverse that.
He also doesn't realize the First Amendment doesn't just protect citizens from censorship, but it also protects against being forced to say something, like an oath to the constitution.
But as currently written, the bill can be seen as a violation of the First Amendment, based on current case law that has challenged policies that students recite the pledge of allegiance … the ACLU of Arizona told Current, "Students have a right to free speech, a right to stay silent, a right to go to school," Thorpe objected to the idea that he bill is unconstitutional, citing the fact that the First Amendment refers to Congress, not state legislatures, and that it does not silence students from speaking. He also noted that those serving in government or the military must take such an oath, as well as immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens. Thorpe said he is planning on offering an amendment to the bill when it goes to committee that would make taking the oath optional rather than mandatory.
If he can’t subjugate Arizonians, he’ll at least shame them into compliance.