Flag Burning and the First Amendment

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Your First Amendment rights are extremely close to being violated by none other than the United States Congress. I refer to the Flag Desecration Bill that, if passed, would do irreparable damage to our right to free speech and undermine the very priniciples for which the American flag stands. Fortunately, West Virginians have an ally in Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Sen. Byrd, who previously favored the bill, now fights to protect our rights by stopping the passage of this bill. I applaud his stand and want to reinforce his position. I also encourage you to join Sen. Byrd's campaign to ensure the legacy and supremacy of the greatest law in the land: the United States Constitution.

Though the Senate expects to vote on this amendment
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Though the First Amendment nationally guarantees our right to free expression, the Fourteenth Amendment also champions our cause in the states by means of the due-process clause. The due-process clause states that "no state shall...deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law" (Wilson). Until 1925, it was legal for the states to pass legislation prohibiting such forms of protest as symbolic speech because the Supreme Court had previosly denied that the due-process clause made the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. However, in the case Gitlow v. New York, the Supreme Court decided that freedom of speech and of the press implicated the "fundamental personal rights" protected by the due-process clause, and the states could no longer breach through legislation those freedoms guaranteed to each individual (Wilson). This case established the precedence that state laws involving speech violate the freedom of expression guarantees of the First Amendment, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, no matter how offensive or repugnant some forms of expression may be, that expression has strong and definite constitutional protections that cannot be encroached by the national or state governments. To create an amendment to weaken our civil liberties constitutes a means to further destroy the representation of our national symbol - the flag.

Our right to engage in symbolic speech without
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