Case Commentary for Flag Day

In 1989 the United States Supreme Court ruled burning the American Flag as a form of protest is considered protected speech under the 1st Amendment. The case was Texas v. Johnson and centered around Mr. Johnson burning a flag during a 1984 Republican Convention to protest presidential candidates that year.

Mr. Johnson was arrested for violating a state law that prohibited burning the American Flag. It took almost 5 years for this conviction to be appealed up to the United States Supreme Court and then the court ruled that burning the American flag could be symbolic speech, as opposed to burning a draft card, and therefore it was protected. The United States Supreme Court also looked at the Flag Protection Act of 1968, which made it illegal to burn or deface the American Flag, and determined that the government could not curb an individual’s right to protest by burning the flag.

Flag day celebrates the United States coming under one flag during the Second Continental Congress. On June 14, 1777 The Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The burning of the American flag is seen by many as being disrespectful and unacceptable, currently it is allowed by law. This is good example for people to see that personal views on morals, ethics, and acceptable behavior are not the same thing a just laws.

When a person feels a law is unjust or should be changed I encourage them to speak to local politicians, state politicians, representatives in the House of Representatives or Senate and learn what can be done.


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