Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe (R) is proposing a bill that would require public high school students in Arizona to “recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution” in order to receive a graduation diploma, reports the Arizona Republic.
The measure, House Bill 2467, does not exempt atheist students or those of different faiths from the requirement. However, Thorpe suggested he would consider an exemption.
Thorpe said in an email to the Arizona Republic: "In that we had a tight deadline for dropping our bills, I was not able to update the language. Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with. Being a father of two, I also realistically understand that some students will embrace this more than others.”
“Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military. 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.”
A separate measure House Bill 2284, sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith, would also “require all students in first through 12th grades to say the pledge of allegiance each day.”
Currently, schools already must set aside time for the pledge each day, but students may choose whether to participate.
ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham told the Arizona Republic: “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.”