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Attorney william Kunstler, left, and David Cole, right, accomplish with reporters top top the steps of the supreme Court structure after arguing against the Flag protection Act of 1989 in 1990. The Court struck down the law on very first Amendment grounds in United claims v. Eichmann. (AP Photo/Jeff Markowitz, supplied with permission native the associated Press)


In solution to protests versus the Vietnam war that to be accompanied by desecration of the American flag, the 90th conference enacted the Flag defense Act of 1968. Not just did this plot nationalize a 1947 law prohibiting desecration of the U.S. Flag in the ar of Columbia, it likewise specified the “hoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physical defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag that the United states shall it is in fined under this location or imprisoned for not an ext than one year.”

Critics tried come overturn the Flag security Act that 1968 on very first Amendment grounds

During the following two decades, numerous critics of the action sought to overturn the on the grounds the it to be inconsistent through the an initial Amendment’s freedom of speech.

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Although obstacles persisted, the reduced courts continued to uphold the constitutionality the the statute, and also the can be fried Court declined to review these rulings.

Court upheld flag burning

However, after two decades of anxiety over the symbolic prestige of the U.S. Flag and an individual’s flexibility of speech to desecrate the flag in protest, the Court agreed come hear the instance of Texas v. Johnson (1989). In a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld flag burning as an plot of safeguarded speech under the very first Amendment. The Court’s decision reviewed a Texas state flag desecration statute rather than the federal law.

Flag defense Act that 1989 was struck down on an initial Amendment gorunds

In an answer to this ruling, the 101st conference passed the Flag protection Act the 1989 giving Congress the ideal to enact law criminalizing the burn or desecration of the flag in public protest.

However, the act was tested in United says v. Eichman (1990). Again in a 5-4 decision, theSupreme Court struck under the 1989 plot on the grounds the the government’s interest in maintaining the flag together a prize did not outweigh an individual’s an initial Amendment right to desecrate the flag in protest.

Although the first Amendment continues to safeguard freedom the speech, the translate of this liberty relentlessly fuels lot debate, and also efforts are still under way in congress to criminalize flag burning, perhaps through constitutional amendment.

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This article was initially published in 2009. Mitzi Ramos is one Instructor that Political scientific research at Northeastern Illinois University.