STUART, Okla. - The ACLU says an Oklahoma school's national anthem policy is unconstitutional, according to a release Wednesday.
The release comes after Stuart Public Schools enacted a policy requiring all students, staff and spectators to stand for the national anthem, prohibiting any form of protest.
The Hughes County school's policy is a recent development in the nation-wide conversation about kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality of minorities, which received recent attention after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players choosing to join the protests.
While some say the protests are disrespectful to U.S. service members, other say they fall under free speech and raise awareness to an important domestic issue in the country.
The ACLU of Oklahoma's legal director released a statement Wednesday:
“Stuart Public Schools’ new policy is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Supreme Court has made clear that students have the right to express themselves. Our Constitution guarantees that public schools can neither mandate forced displays of patriotism and nationalism, nor forbid lawful protests against injustice. Stuart Public Schools has chosen to violate both of these guarantees. This school district’s school’s leaders are in desperate need of a First Amendment lesson, one that they are likely to receive swifty in the event they actually attempt to enforce this unlawful policy.”
The organization's director of external affairs also released a statement:
“Forcing students to stand for the National Anthem is irresponsible and flies in the face of every conceivable understanding of the First Amendment. If this school district were actually interested in real patriotism, they would do their duty as a government actor to uphold the values of the Constitution rather than waste taxpayers’ time and resources with an unlawful attempt to shut down the expression of their students and staff.”
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