Is the burning of the American Flag protected by the first amendment freedom of speech, or is it seen as obscenity? Burning of the American Flag, or any flag, is seen as a way to protest your government, and tell them that they are doing a bad job. This argument just got re-ignited recently due to Trump being elected as president and he threatened, “ loss of citizenship or a year in jail!” if you were caught burning the flag. This issue has been challenged multiple times in the U.S Supreme Court. Once In the 1989 case “Texas V Johnson” and again in 2005 when Clinton tried to pass the Flag Protection act.
People feel very strongly against flag burning as you can see here. People, including the president, love the first amendment (freedom of speech to be exact), but burning of the flag is often seen as a whole different idea. A lot of citizens take the burning of the flag as a way to disrespect all of the countless lives that were lost defending the flag. Others argue that you are abusing freedom of speech by burning an object that gives you that right in this country. Finally, my personal opinion is that the flag is seen as a sacred object to the U.S and it should be illegal. You shouldn’t be thrown in jail, just get a huge fine for burning the flag.
On the other side, it is protected under the first amendment freedom of speech. The burning of the flag has been tested twice in court and 2 laws have tried to have been passed to outlaw the burning. In 1989, the case of “Texas V Johnson” occurred. The supreme Court ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a form of “symbolic speech” which was protected by the First Amendment. Gregory Johnson was convicted by a Texas court of violating state law that didn’t allow “ desecration of a venerated object” . The next year, another case came up. “United States v Eichman”, where again the Supreme Court affirmed the right to burn the Flag. In 1989 George H Bush tried to pass Flag Protection Act and it was ruled unconstitutional. Again in 2005 Hilary Clinton tried to pass another Flag Protection Act and it too was denied. Many argue that if you make flag burning illegal, where does it stop? It could destroy our democracy.
In conclusion, this is a very debatable subject where people feel strongly on both sides. Burning the flag is seen wrong by many, but it is protected by our own constitution, and it is hard to argue against that. Ask yourself, what would you do to protest?