LETTER – Dancer Bill to Recover Taxpayer Costs Defending Flag Pledge Legislation gives court discretion for plaintiff to pay defendant’s court and attorney fees

Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced legislation that affirms the right of a school system, council or commission to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Under current law, those in attendance are not required to recite the pledge, however full respect must be shown to the flag while the pledge is being given by merely standing at attention.

 

The American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen School District

 last year that sought the removal of “under God” from the pledge recited in the district’s schools. The suit was dismissed in February, leaving the school district with $16,000 in court and attorney’s fees. Dancer’s bill gives a judge the discretion to award attorney fees and costs to the defendant who prevails in an action challenging the recitation of the pledge.

 

“Circuit courts have consistently ruled recitation of the pledge is permissible as long as students are not forced to participate,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Middlesex. “This measure not only reinforces the right of public bodies in New Jersey to recite the pledge as written, but allows the courts to assign the defendant’s court costs to the unsuccessful plaintiff.

 

“The law has been upheld enough that it is time for plaintiffs to consider whether it is worth the legal challenge and the potential financial consequences if they fail,” continued Dancer. “The money spent by the school district could have been used for other purposes that benefit students. Instead, it was used to defend a frivolous lawsuit.”