Thursday, September 14, 2000

Pledge protester back in class

The Associated Press

        LORAIN, Ohio — A high school senior sent home and threatened with suspension after sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance was allowed to return to class Wednesday.

        Vincent Capizzi, 17, can attend classes while the district considers an argument by the American Civil Liberties Union that a requirement students stand for the pledge is unconstitutional, spokesman Ed Branham said.

        ACLU attorney Ray Vasvari said though it was good Mr. Capizzi was allowed to return, other students also must have the right to sit through the pledge. The group may file a lawsuit if the policy does not change, he said.

        Mr. Capizzi was sent home early after he refused to stand Tuesday and responded rudely when the teacher raised the issue. He was sent home because of the rude behavior, Mr. Branham said.

        Mr. Capizzi said he was making a political statement when he refused to stand.

        “Right now, I don't agree with politics,” he said Tuesday. “Maybe when we get a new president who can show being an American is something to be proud of, I'd gladly stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

        Mr. Capizzi did not specify his objections to President Clinton.

        Mr. Branham said standing in class as a group has been part of a regular routine that is coincidental to the pledge. The district will decide whether the policy is an unconstitutional requirement that all students recite the pledge, he said.

        Mr. Vasvari cited a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, West Virginia v. Barnette, which he said established that forcing students to stand for the pledge is akin to forcing them to recite it.


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