Colorado, the Pledge of Allegiance and the ACLU

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, August 13, 2003. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Impact Segment tonight, if you think we are picking on the ACLU (search), well, you're wrong. We are amazed that this organization is behaving in such a destructive manner all over the country.

In Colorado, the ACLU has now filed a suit in federal court on behalf of "students and teachers throughout that state, contending that reciting the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional." Same old song, but the governor of Colorado doesn't like the tune.

Joining us now from Denver is Governor Bill Owens. Now on August 6, Colorado passed a law requiring public school students and teachers to recite the pledge. Why did you do that?

BILL OWENS, GOVERNOR, COLORADO: Well, the legislature passed the law. And I signed it because I think it's a good way to start the school day. A lot of us grew up in schools and school districts where we started the day every day by pledging allegiance. It's a good idea for Colorado. We do provide exemptions. If a student doesn't want to, the student doesn't have to. If the teacher doesn't want to, the teacher doesn't have to, but it's a great way to remind everybody what a great country this is.

O'REILLY: Okay, so the exemptions are important. So you're not imposing the pledge of allegiance on the students or the teachers.

OWENS: Right.

O'REILLY: Yet the ACLU files a federal lawsuit against the state. And that means the taxpayers are going to have to defend it. You're going to have to pay money to defend it.


O'REILLY: Citing that this law that you passed with the exemptions violates free speech rights. What does that mean?

OWENS: You know, it just shows you how far left the American civil liberties union is. It's almost like they need to gather up membership from those who would support such an inane lawsuit.

Sometimes, Bill, as you know, they strike gold. They get a friendly judge who, in fact, gives them attorney fees. And that's how they fund the ACLU. It's through membership and the occasional lawsuit. Meantime, the taxpayers have to pay to defend.

O'REILLY: Right.

OWENS: And I'm confident they will win, but it's just a shame that the taxpayers have to go through this sort of rigmarole.

O'REILLY: It is.

O'REILLY: Now you are an astute political observer. And I know something about you. I used to live in Colorado. The American Civil Liberties Union used to be someplace that was protecting the folks. You know, so the government couldn't force the folks to do things that were against the constitution.

OWENS: It did.

O'REILLY: Now they seem to be oppressing the folks because I'm sure the Colorado polls show that 85 percent, 90 percent of Coloradoans want this law with the exemptions. They want it.

OWENS: Sure.

O'REILLY: They want it. They want to teach patriotism in the schools. This is a good thing. So in your opinion, how did the ACLU turn around from a protector to an oppressor?

OWENS: You know, that's an interesting question because over the years, the ACLU has occasionally defended conservatives, has occasionally stepped up to defend those on the right. But it seems like it's been a long time since we've seen that sort of moderate behavior by the ACLU.

I think it's part of the American hard left today. I think that it goes out and tries to decide what does the hard left want to do. And that's where it positions itself. It needs the dues. It tries to win an occasional case from a friendly judge to get the legal fees that help keep it in business and pays its salaries.

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean, look, in the last few weeks, we have an ACLU lawsuit in San Diego, which a federal judge ruled that the Boy Scouts are a religious organization, therefore not entitled to use the city's land for their activities. All right? We have the state of Colorado now having to defend a lawsuit against saying the pledge of allegiance even with exemptions. And in Massachusetts, we have the ACLU defending the North American Man-Boy Love Association, all right, which is involved in a civil suit by a father whose 10-year-old boy was slaughtered by a NAMBLA member, and the NAMBLA member said at the murder trial I was influenced to kill this boy by this organization.

So we have three things that are -- I will tell you -- anathema to 90 percent of Americans. So it seems to me that the American Civil Liberties Union, what they're doing now, is hurting the far left because people are becoming so bitter towards the organization. I know I am. I mean, I'm not picking on them. I just think they're dangerous.

OWENS: No, you're just reporting the facts. And I think that the American Civil Liberties Union is so hard left that they've really given up the mantle of defending civil liberties. And now they're just part of the political process, looking for the occasional political judge to rule in their favor.

O'REILLY: Right. Now they're going to try to get an injunction because I guess Colorado schools open in, what, two weeks?

OWENS: Some of them have already opened. And so, we're in about our third or fourth day of a lot of Colorado's kids starting the day with the recitation, the pledge of allegiance.

O'REILLY: All right.

OWENS: They're trying to get an injunction. I think they'll fail.

O'REILLY: Okay, I hope so. Because if they don't fail, governor, imagine the message that sends to the children? You know, the kids who don't really understand.

OWENS: Well, it does.

O'REILLY: I mean, all of a sudden they're saying the pledge of allegiance and then they're not saying it. And then they're all looking around going why not?

All right, keep us posted on this. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention, governor.

OWENS: Thanks, Bill.

O'REILLY: Nice to see you as always.

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