Flag Desecration Essay

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Flag Desecration The issue of flag desecration has been and continues to be a highly controversial issue; on the one side there are those who believe that the flag is a unique symbol for our nation which should be preserved at all costs, while on the other are those who believe that flag burning is a form of free speech and that any legislation designed to prevent this form of expression is contrary to the ideals of the First Amendment to our Constitution. Shawn Eichman, as well as the majority of the United States Supreme Court, is in the latter of these groups. Many citizens believe that the freedom of speech granted to them in the First Amendment means that they can express themselves in any manner they wish as long as their right of…show more content…
In Texas v. Johnson a majority of the Supreme Court considered for the first time whether the First Amendment protects desecration of the United States flag as a form of symbolic speech. A sharply divided Court had previously dealt with symbolic speech cases that involved alleged misuses of the flag. While "the Court had ruled in favor of the defendants in those cases (Street v. New York, 1969; Smith v. Goguen, 1974; Spence v. Washington, 1974), it had done so on narrow grounds, refusing to confront the ultimate question status of flag desecration" (Downs 868). The court ruled in favor of Johnson (5-4), believing that "there was no evidence that Johnson's expression threatened an imminent disturbance of the peace, and that the statute's protection of the integrity of the flag as a symbol was improperly directed at the communicative message entailed in flag burning" (Downs 868). Justice Brennan concluded by saying, "We do not consecrate the flag by punishing it's desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents" (Witt 409). Reacting to this ruling, the Untied State's Congress sought to pass legislation that would overturn it. The Flag Protection Amendment was introduced and then voted down, but then the Flag Protection Act was passed in both houses. President Bush allowed this act to pass without his signature, "an expression
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