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Flag amendment introduced in Senate

Flag amendment introduced in Senate

For the ninth time in his career, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposed a flag-protection amendment in the Senate on June 13. Hatch introduced Senate Joint Resolution 17, proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give Congress the authority to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration.

The American Legion has staunchly supported such an amendment since 1989. On June 22 of that year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Texas v. Johnson that the state’s flag-protection law violated the First Amendment; a year later, it declared the same was true for federal law.

"This amendment is often misunderstood," said James E. Koutz, national commander of The American Legion. "It does not protect the U.S. flag. It merely returns to Congress the power to pass legislation that would protect the flag, a power that was taken away from them by the Supreme Court in 1989. It is time to correct this mistake – now."

Hatch echoed Koutz’s clarification in his own remarks, saying that even if the amendment was ratified, it "would not prohibit flag desecration. It would merely give Congress authority to do so."

If passed by Congress, the amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the country’s state governments before it became the Constitution’s 28th amendment.

The House version of the flag-amendment proposal, H.J. Res. 47, was introduced May 22 by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.

"On this Flag Day, tens of millions of Americans will be inspired by the sight and beauty of the U.S. flag," Bachus said. "It is an appropriate time for Congress to begin to take steps to honor and protect the most recognized symbol of freedom and democracy in the world."

Lipinski said that while the protection of the U.S. flag is "a responsibility for all Americans," he cherished First Amendment rights but firmly believed that "purposeful flag desecration is an offensive act that cannot and should not be tolerated." As a congressman representing a district with more than 30,000 veterans, Lipinski said he has "worked alongside too many veterans – and attended far too many memorial ceremonies for soldiers killed in action – to ever think otherwise."

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., a co-sponsor of the resolution, said America’s patriots have fought and died to defend the U.S. flag for more than two centuries, "and this amendment makes clear that the American people, through their elected lawmakers, have the constitutional authority to protect their flag from desecration."

Hatch noted that while voting Americans have the ultimate authority to change the Constitution’s rules for government, "Congress should not deprive the American people of the opportunity to express their will on this important issue. The American people want that opportunity. All 50 state legislatures have indicated their support for a constitutional amendment to allow the protection of the flag. At a time when many issues divide us, the flag to which we pledge allegiance ought to be one thing that unites us."

The proposed amendment is a single sentence: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Hatch’s resolution has 21 original co-sponsors, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Marco Rubio of Florida.

 

 

 

 

More in Flag Advocacy

 

David A Rose Jr

March 9, 2014 - 6:57am

I recently read about a protest in Phoenix, AZ. Several people had a large American flag on the ground. They were stomping on it and writing Spanish comments on the flag in paint. When a soldier who had just returned from Afghanistan tried to stop them, he was thrown to the ground by Arizona capitol guards. They told him the protestors had a right to do so with no interference. This is BULL.

ROY SCHUSTER

November 29, 2013 - 12:14pm

LSANYONE CAUGHT BURNING THE FLAG OF THESE GEAT UNITED STATES SHOULD BE JAILED AND ALSO MAKE AS PART OF THERE PUNISHMENT CLAN ALL THE FLAG POLES FOR 6 MONTHS. OR DEPORTED WHEN I HEAR OF THAT BEING DONE I GET SO VIOLETLY MAS AS A VEITNAMVET AND LOSING 58000.00 BOYS AND WOMAN IT REALLY MAKES ME SICK. YOURS TRULEU ROY A SCHUSTER.

CHARLES F. MARTIN, MSGT,USAF RET

October 28, 2013 - 2:10pm

WE SHOULD DO ALL WE CAN DO TO PROTECT THE FLAG AND WHAT IT MEANS TO ALL OF US WHO SPENT MANY YEARS PROTECTING THOSE WHO WOULD DESICRATES THE FLAG. LIKE WISE CONGRESS SHOULD PASS THE ADMENTMENT GIVING VETERANS THE RIGHT TO USE THE MILITARY SALUTE WHEN RECITING THE PLEDGE.

David McLeod

June 20, 2013 - 7:46pm

My father went to War in 1943 and fought for this flag, I splent over 20 years in the Service and am still willing to give my life for it's foundation and yet someone has the right to burn it, rip it or throw it on the ground and stomp it. I am afraid I just do not understand the Surpreme Justice system as it is.

TreasureIsland

June 18, 2013 - 9:31am

The amendment should be passed. Anyone who desicrates the Flag should be charged with the crime even deported to a worn torn country where they don't care about the Flag. Thank you, Betsy Ross and the American Legion.

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