Recall of Non-pledger Canceled in Colorado

A recall of David Habecker, a town trustee in Estes Park, Col., because he refused to recite the religious Pledge of Allegiance, was postponed indefinitely by a federal judge on Feb. 10.

The recall, which was scheduled for Feb. 15, was blocked by U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham of Denver, largely on a technicality. This is believed to be the first time a recall election has ever been enjoined.

Habecker was represented by attorney Robert R. Tiernan, a Foundation member who has taken lawsuits on behalf of the Foundation.

Lawyers for Estes Park made no argument since the town has no stake in the recall, and backers of the recall appeared without representation and offered inadequate legal arguments, Nottingham said.

I feel like the Super Bowl has been canceled,” Habecker told media. “My reading of the Constitution is that you can’t recall someone for exercising their freedom of religious rights.”

Habecker has served on the town board for 12 years. The town’s governing body only began holding public recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance last May.

When other members noticed Habecker was not standing or reciting the pledge, some of them worked with community members to foment a recall, gathering the 246 required signatures to recall Habecker.

Habecker announced he will stay seated until “under God” is stricken.

“The Pledge is used to coerce people . . . and in America, you don’t have to prove you are religious or loyal to your country.”

He said religious references have no place in an official town meeting.

Habecker and Tiernan are not only contesting the legality of the recall, but the constitutionality of inserting “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Estes Park is a resort community in the Rockies, about 60 miles northwest of Denver.

Freedom From Religion Foundation