Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Colo. Politican Threatened With Recall Because of Pledge

Via Drudge, story here.

The short version is that this guy was elected as a trustee/Councilman on the Town Board (pardon that sentence - the article unclear as to what, exactly his job is). Earlier this year, the Board started reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of meetings. Councilman David Habecker won't stand up for that part of the meeting, and the town is now organizing a recall vote to give him the boot.

Habecker says his problem (as if we couldn't guess) is that he feels the words "under God" violate the separation of Church and State.

The U.S. Constitution, Article II.1.7, requires the President to take the Oath of Office, but it also provides for an affirmation, should the President object to taking an oath. Federal Rule of Evidence 603 says that sworn testimony in a court is the same way. Our laws, therefore, are designed not to compel someone to say or perform an action that violates a conscience-based objection to "religious" requirements. Because there is no "affirmation" version of the Pledge of Allegiance, I support Habecker's personal decision not to stand during the pledge.

Even if Habecker is doing nothing more than making a political statement, having nothing to do with personal religion-based objections, that's fine as well. There's no reason to suggest that politicians shouldn't be able to make political statements during political meetings.

I also support the right of the locals to recall the guy. If they don't think their elected representative actually represents them, they should have the power to give the guy the old heave-ho.

But I don't think the guy's transgression is so great in this case as to justify the time, expense, and interference with the operation of the Council that a recall is a wise thing to do. Not everything needs to be a full-blown political catastrophe. Let his term expire and vote in someone who will stand for the Pledge, if that's what you want.