July 30, 2009
Jefferson City, MO - Attorney General Chris Koster today lauded the St. Francois County Circuit Court decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Judge Kenneth Pratte for beginning each day in court with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Attorney General's Office defended Judge Pratte in the lawsuit. Robert Stamm, Sr. and Robert Stamm, Jr. sued Judge Pratte, claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights guaranteeing free speech and prohibiting the establishment of a religion.
Koster said it was Judge Pratte's practice, upon entering the courtroom, to invite those present to remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. The judge then faced the flag and led the recitation of the Pledge.
"The court's decision to dismiss this case protects the rights of our judiciary and our citizens to express their patriotism to our country," Koster said. "The decision also leaves open the opportunity for everyone in the courtroom to be reminded of the right to ‘liberty and justice for all.'"