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Friday, June 30, 2006

Who Gets to Decide?

As most everyone knows by now, the Senate fell one vote short this week of passing a proposed flag desecration amendment. While conservatives generally support such an amendment, I have heard some conservatives argue against it. I have even heard a few conservative war veterans argue against the amendment, saying that although they personally find flag desecration a disgusting act, they fought to give Americans the right to do it.

Reasonable people can argue on both sides of this issue. However, it seems to me that there is another issue at stake here, and that is the issue of who gets to decide.

In 1968 Congress passed the Flag Protection Act which made flag desecration punishable by fine or imprisonment. Later, 48 of the 50 states passed similar laws. However, a 1989 Supreme Court ruling effectively overturned all of these laws.

Currently, all 50 states have passed non-binding resolutions asking Congress to propose a flag-desecration amendment to the states for ratification.

The text of the proposed amendment simply reads as follows:

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
This amendment would have given the people, through their elected representatives, the right to decide the legality of flag desecration.

Whether one believes that flag desecration is a free-speech right that should be protected or that it is an act that should be illegal, the bottom line is that the people should be the ones to decide, not the court.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Left Thinking said...

The court represents the people, in a form different from the other branches.

Remember, that the role of the court, per our founding fathers, is to protect the minority from tyranny of the majority. What is more tyrannical than telling a portion of the population that they cannot exercise their fundamental right to political speech?

Finally, what to do with persons who dispose of a tattered flag through appropriate flag ettiquete by burning the flag?

12:09 AM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

Left Thinking,

Thanks for visiting and for you comments.

When 48 out of 50 elected state legislatures and the elected U.S. Congress all have anti-desecration laws which are overturned by 9 unelected justices, it could be argued that the majority needs protection from the tyranny of the minority.

Again, I think a reasonable argument can be made on both sides of the flag desecration/free speech issue, but I think that the people, through their elected representatives, should decide.

As for the question about persons who dispose of a tattered flag through appropriate flag etiquette by burning the flag, it should be pointed out that the Flag Protection Act of 1968 included the following provision:

"This subsection does not prohibit any conduct consisting of the disposal of a flag when it has become worn or soiled."

The law clearly indicted that it applied to persons desecrating the flag, not to those following appropriate flag etiquette.

9:58 AM  

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