Lane v. Owens

Freedom of Expression & Religion | Student and Youth Rights
Case No. 03-B-1544, United States District Court, District of Colorado
ACLU Case No. 2003-09


In August 2003, a new Colorado statute, HB 03-1368, took effect. It requires that each student and each teacher in every public school must recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. The statute provides that teachers and students can be excused from reciting the Pledge if they assert objections that are based on religious grounds. Teachers who object for other reasons of conscience, however, are still required to recite the Pledge. Students who object on nonreligious grounds may be excused only if their parents put their objections in writing and file them with the school.

The ACLU filed suit on behalf of teachers and students in several Colorado school districts, arguing that the right of free expression prohibits the government from mandating that individuals recite the Pledge of Allegiance. On August 15, 2003, Judge Babcock granted the ACLU's request for a temporary injunction forbidding enforcement of the statute. In 2004, the legislature amended the statute so that reciting the Pledge was voluntary, not mandatory.


Alan Chen
David Lane
Mark Hughes , Two Rivers Institute
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director

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