It will now be up to the voters to decide whether an Estes Park trustee gets recalled for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
A federal judge lifted an injunction Wednesday, ruling that the recall election can take place.Trustee David Habecker has refused to stand and say the pledge at Town Board meetings because of the words "under God." He said it's against his beliefs and that made some voters push for a recall."I do not believe that this book, that this God, that this country is under that God. I believe the framers of the Constitution had a separation there," said Habecker. "You know what people's opinion is? It's the Constitution of the United States. It is the constitution of Colorado and it is all the rules and ordinances of Estes Park.""His action as a personal protest is not what we want as a representative. He's taking a personal stand as an elected official," said Richard Clark, who is pushing for the recall. "We the people believe that his actions and his verbage do not represent us as citizens for a responsible government."
The Town Board meets next Tuesday night to set a date for the recall election. It could happen as soon as March 22.The pledge was added to the trustees' agenda early last year.Several months later, Habecker said he would stay seated because of his constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion.Habecker, who's served on the Town Board for 12 years, said he doesn't oppose the meaning of the pledge, and considers himself a patriot.Habecker said he just objects to the words "under God" because they exclude some beliefs. He also said religious references have no place in an official town meeting.Board members who launched the recall effort say voters have lost confidence in Habecker's ability to represent citizen's patriotism and "common decency."The board began reciting the pledge before meetings at the suggestion of Trustee Lori Jeffrey-Clark, calling it a way to show respect for the country during wartime.Habecker sued the town and others in January to try to stop the recall election.During a hearing in Denver on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham said Habecker has certain rights, but citizens also have the right to petition to recall him. He also said the town remained neutral during the recall process.Habecker's attorney says he probably won't appeal the ruling.
David Habecker sits while others stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
- February 11, 2005: Town Official Who Won't Recite Pledge Won't Face Recall Yet
- December 15, 2004: Recall Election Set For Trustee Who Won't Stand For Pledge