A legal battle has begun over a Nebraska law that requires teachers to pledge their belief in American ideals and teach students to appreciate the founding principles of the United States.
The decades-old law is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, who sent a letter to Hastings Public Schools with a warning to stop enforcing the law.
The law, which many consider to be outdated, has been mostly ignored in recent years, but the Hastings school district is asking employees to sign a pledge swearing allegiance to the country.
Even though teachers and students around the country stand each morning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, the Nebraska district asks employees to go one step further by signing the oath.
Hastings Superintendent Craig Kautz said that he is only following the state's law, which he said is still valid based on his attorney's advice.
The pledge reportedly includes a declaration that says employees “believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed.”
The ACLU says that the law was passed in 1951 and that since then, the United States Supreme Court has said on multiple occasions that employees should not be required to sign such a pledge.
Kautz admitted that he hadn't even heard of the law until this year and did not previously require his employees to sign a pledge.
He denied that the staff is actually required to sign the pledge and said that there would be no punishment for refusing to sign.
The Hastings district has not faced legal repercussions for neglecting to require that the oath be signed, nor has any other district in the state. As it turns out, the opposite may become true if the school district faces legal troubles over enforcing the law this year, rather than failing to do so for decades.
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