Reform Jewish Leader Applauds Senate Rejection of Constitutional Amendment Weakening First Amendment Rights
Saperstein: We share in the pride and patriotism the flag inspires in millions of Americans, yet we believe the flag desecration amendment undermines the commitment to freedom, and particularly free expression, that our country and our flag represent.
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Washington, DC, June, 28 2006 – In response to the Senate’s rejection yesterday of S.J.Res.12, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow Congress to pass legislation prohibiting “physical desecration” of the United States flag, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The Reform Jewish Movement applauds the courageous Senators who voted against this legislation that seeks to stifle freedom of expression. We share in the pride and patriotism the flag inspires in millions of Americans, yet we believe the flag desecration amendment undermines the commitment to freedom, and particularly free expression, that our country and our flag represent.
Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle that guarantees the preservation of a pluralistic society in which those who espouse diverse and even conflicting views and beliefs may pursue them without fear of suppression. Because it weakens the protection of freedom of speech embedded in the First Amendment, the flag desecration amendment runs contrary to the very values that have made the U.S. a beacon of liberty worldwide.
The American Jewish community has been particularly committed to the protection of First Amendment rights, which have helped make this country a refuge for Jews and others throughout the world who have been faced with persecution and oppression in countries without equivalent guarantees. We therefore strongly oppose protecting the U.S. flag from physical desecration at the expense of weakening the rights it symbolizes.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.