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 of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.
A bill introduced into the AZ state legislature by Representative Bob Thorpe would require all students graduating from public schools in AZ to swear an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. I have several problems with this bill. First and foremost not all high school students believe in God. There are atheists and they would have to swear on God. Also there are individuals of different faiths that may have problems with this such as Muslims, Jehova Witnesses or Quakers that may take issue with a loyalty oath (Phoenix Business Journal). Being forced to swear on God is the biggest issue and most likely one to bring a legal challenge if HB2467 is made law.
But there are other issues. For one AZ ranked 44th in the nation for education according to Quality Counts report by Education Week. Yet legislators are spending time worrying about oaths for graduating seniors. Maybe they should spend a bit more time worry about getting kids to the point of graduating. Or maybe they should ensure students are prepared when they leave high school. I know being a product of AZ public schools that I was not prepared for college after graduating high school.
Next is the issue of forcing students to take an oath of loyalty at all. AZ state Representative Thorpe said “”Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military,”
(The Arizona Republic). Well high school is not elected office, military or law enforcement. All of those positions are voluntary choices on the part of the individual whereas high school is not. Furthermore, each of those positions depend heavily on the constitution. Law enforcement, military and the governor enforce the Constitution and laws being part of the executive branch. The legislature writes the laws which must conform to the constitution. Graduating high school students do not do this. Thorpe is relying on a false equivocation.
Beyond that the bill would face legal challenges if it became law.
“Both bills are clearly unconstitutional, ironically enough,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham. “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.”
That means if HB2467 became law the state would be wasting money in legal battles over oaths rather than investing that money into education. What is the point in that? Why waste tax payer money writing a bill, discussing the bill and potentially passing it only to face legal challenges once it is passed? What could it gain for AZ?
“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”
Well I guess that is what it is supposed to accomplish. That seems a bit bass ackwards. He hopes that an oath taken on graduation day will ‘inspire’ kids to learn more about the Constitution and history. Huh? I thought you were supposed to learn that in school not after you graduate. If he wants that then maybe he should be focused on history and government curriculum not an oath of loyalty. You know maybe actually teach that stuff instead of just trying to inspire student to learn it on their own.
Overall this proposed bill is pointless, unconstitutional and a waste of tax payer dollars to even write.