April 19, 2014 · 19 Nisan

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Free Speech: Flag Desecration

Throughout the world, our nation's flag is honored as a symbol of unparalleled freedom. For Americans, it speaks to the virtues of justice, pride, respect, and liberty. In the 1989 case Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects even the right to burn or deface the flag. Many Americans, however, feel that Congress should have the power to prohibit desecration of this symbol of national pride, which would require a constitutional amendment.

Organizations such as the American Legion and the Citizens Flag Alliance have spent millions of dollars in a campaign to win congressional approval of the amendment. News organizations such as the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists, along with the American Bar Association, People for the American Way and ACLU, oppose the amendment as an unreasonable and unnecessary limitation of political speech - no matter how unpopular or detestable the point of view.

Congress has debated and rejected a flag desecration constitutional amendment several times. In June 2005, the House passed a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration (H.J. Res 10) and a similar bill (S.J. Res. 12) was defeated by a single vote in the Senate in June 2006. A 2/3rds vote in both chambers is necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.



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