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Jun 06 2016

Flag Burning is a Protected Expression

In the United States, we have decided, as a nation, that there are certain basic and natural freedoms that exist before any form of government is decided upon. These natural freedoms are given protection against interference by the government in the section of our Constitution known as the “Bill of Rights”.

In the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech. (among other things) We have accepted the idea that while we may find certain forms of speech disagreeable or distasteful, they may need this protection from government interference, because it also protects our right to express our opinions.

Most of us probably feel that burning the American flag is not a good thing to do, although we probably also have a wide range of how serious an offense this is and how it should be handled. This is just one example of Constitutional issues that cross the boundaries of public opinion. It’s important to remember that our Constitution is designed to protect our individual liberties from the power of government which can easily become overwhelming without that protection.

The Supreme Court has ruled that desecrating the flag is a form of symbolic expression that should be protected. The ruling was established by a 5-4 vote and could be changed in the future if the makeup of the court changes. Several attempts to add a new Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting desecration of the flag have failed, but might succeed in the future. For now, at least, the law of the land is that burning the flag is a form of expression that need protection.