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Flag Burning

Flag Burning

The Flag Desecration Amendment, also known as the Flag Burning Amendment, is a very controversial Amendment allowed under the Constitution. This Amendment states that the United States Congress has to allow the expression of political views even if it is through the burning of the United States Flag. Of course one can see the disapproval of such an Amendment by members of the Government.

Many argue that this allowance is a violation of the United States’ national symbol, while others enforce that this is just a measure of free speech. This issue still provokes a controversial debate over the national symbol, a person’s free speech, and protecting the liberty associated with the national symbol.

This Amendment passed by the House of Representatives states that Congress has no power to restrict the desecration of the United States Flag. This Amendment was first applied with the intent of giving power to Congress to criminalize any flag burning activity in a public protest. Those who agree with the content of this Amendment thinking that giving the Congress such power to restrict flag desecration ultimately limits a person’s freedom of speech. They also point out the rarity of flag desecration in the United States.

Opponents to the Amendment state that making such action illegal would ruin the very principle upon which America bases itself. Other arguments point out that certain groups, such as the Boys Scouts of America and the American Legion, usually participate in flag burning as a measure of a respectful manner of disposal. According to the view of opponents of the Amendment would discriminate against those who committed the same acts with different intentions.

Those individuals that proposed the argument of flag burning being a violation of the law state that laws against flag burning are needed to protect the simple important nature of the flag. With the United States flag being considered as the most relevant symbol of the U.S., many believe that burning the flag is a direct offense to the beliefs and practices if the U.S. Government. Proponents to flag desecration argue that the action is not an intellectual one, but identified as being rather inarticulate. People against flag burning feel it is an offensive act that needs to be outlawed.

In accordance with the long controversial battle over the actions of flag burning, below are a series of Acts implemented over the years identifying the issues regarding flag burning.

Federal Flag Desecration Law 1968- This law was passed in response to a protest held in Central Park where a peace activist burned the flag in protest of the Vietnam War. The law banned of this display against the American flag.

Supreme Court Rules Against Laws Banning "Contempt" of Flag (1972)- After a teenager was arrested for wearing a patch of the American flag on the seat of his pants, the Supreme Court ruled that laws that banned contempt in a vague manner were unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment.

● The Supreme Court strikes down all laws banning flag desecration (1989)- In a 1984 Republican Convention, Gregory Lee burned the flag in protest to President Reagan's policies and was arrested under the Texas flag desecration statute. In a Court ruling after his arrest, the Supreme Court removed the flag desecration law from 48 states.

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