The controversial topic of burning the American flag is front and center once again.
Last Friday — on Flag Day — Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack brought forth legislation aimed at restoring “Congress’s constitutional authority to ban the desecration of the United States flag.”
According to The Hill, President Donald Trump supports the proposal.
The day after the bill was reintroduced, he seconded the motion on Twitter.
All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2019
The act of burning the American flag became protected under freedom of speech after the 1989 Texas v. Johnson Supreme Court ruling.
Before that ruling, 48 states declared it illegal and had steep penalties on the books for such an act.
Daines and Womack would like to return to the legal setup that existed before the 1989 ruling.
In a joint news release from both elected officials, Womack said, “Our flag is more than a cloth painted red, white, and blue. It is a symbol of worldwide freedom, unity, and liberty. It has guided troops into battle, flown during our triumphs and challenges, and is placed over the caskets of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Generations have fought to defend our stars and stripes — and the American people have simply given too much for the flag to not have the ability to protect it.”
“Our United States flag is a timeless symbol of liberty that tells the story of America, the story of our enduring pursuit of freedom. Remembering the sacrifices of all who carried its colors into battle, our nation should always render the flag the honor and dignity it is due,” Daines said.
In recent years, Congress has been close to reversing the 1989 decision and restoring laws that punish flag burners.
“Members of Congress have routinely supported the passage of an amendment to allow for the ability to protect the flag,” the joint statement read.
“To date, a joint resolution giving Congress the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag has been passed in the House several times with bipartisan support.”
Trump posted a tweet calling for action against flag burners in 2016.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
Ultimately, discussions about burning the United States flag can be challenging, as Americans have conflicted feelings over the subject due to the First Amendment.
Some free-speech advocates send messages through our justice system.
Whether Congress one-ups the Supreme Court and brings back punishment for flag burners remains to be seen — but with Trump in the Oval Office, it’s probably the optimal time to make such legislation a reality.
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