On Friday, May 4, 2007, as the Texas Legislature debated House Bill 1034 by State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball), State Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), engaged Riddle in an exchange that could face close scrutiny in the coming months as federal courts try to determine whether or not the intent of the pledge law is secular or religious. Here are some excerpts from that exchange:
RIDDLE: No, that, I think, is what I made very clear, that in our national pledge, we say, “one nation under God.” I felt like it was altogether right and appropriate for us to have in our state pledge, that we would say, “one state under God.”
HOCHBERG: We also, in the national pledge, if I’m not mistaken, say, “with liberty and justice for all.” You didn’t include that in your bill, I don’t believe. Was there some reason that you didn’t include that, but you did include the “under God” part?
HOCHBERG: No? Would you take a third reading amendment to add, “with liberty and justice for all?”
RIDDLE: I think that the way we have it now, it reads smoothly, it says what we wanted it to say, and I think that we voted on it yesterday, and I think that we have a consensus that basically says what we want it to say.
HOCHBERG: Okay, but you’re basically trying to pick up the religious piece from the national pledge and just move it down to our state pledge. Is that fair?
RIDDLE: What I said yesterday is that it simply mirrors the national pledge in that area.
HOCHBERG: It mirrors the religious part of the pledge.
RIDDLE: This pledge is, in fact, unique to Texas, and we’re not trying to replicate the entire pledge, but there are parts of the pledge that I thought we could put in it.
RIDDLE: I think I made my point very clear last night, and I think I’ve made my point very clear today.
HOCHBERG: And your point is that the “under God” part is what you think is important to move over?
RIDDLE: That is what we put in there, sir. It mirrors the national pledge. It’s a very simple concept and I feel like it’s being redundant to have to say that over and over.
HOCHBERG: Thank you. I never mean to make anybody be redundant. Thank you, ma’am.
SOURCE: House Journal, 80th Texas Legislature, May 4, 2007
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