by Madeleine Morgenstern, The Blaze  |  published on January 27, 2013

A bill making its way through the Arizona state legislature would require public high school students to swear an oath to defend the Constitution before they receive their diplomas.

The legislation was introduced Tuesday by a group of Republican lawmakers and referred to several state House committees. If passed, it would require principals to verify in writing that a student had recited the following oath before they were allowed to graduate, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year:

I, _________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

The oath — similar to the one taken by government leaders, military members and new U.S. citizens — ends with the words “so help me God,” which could run afoul of the First Amendment, the Phoenix Business Journal noted:

Jehovah’s witnesses, some Muslims and pacifist Quakers have in the past challenged loyalty oaths imposed by the federal government and other agencies, saying they conflict with their beliefs and religious professions. Similarly, some Arizona students could challenge the proposed high school oath as a violation of their religious liberties and freedom of expression.

The legislation’s sponsor, first-time lawmaker Rep. Bob Thorpe, told Current the idea for it came from a campaign event and from constituents who said they were concerned about patriotism and the Constitution.

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