Similar measure authorizing Congress to protect U.S. flag from desecration expected to be introduced in Senate later this month.
Legion family members are encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of the recently introduced flag amendment.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., reintroduced legislation for the 112th Congress proposing a constitutional amendment which would restore to Congress the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag. House Joint Resolution 13 simply reads, “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”
A companion bill in the Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will be introduced later this month. In previous Congresses, the House overwhelmingly adopted this flag-protection amendment but the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to send it to the states for ratification hasn’t been achieved.
The American Legion is urging all concerned citizens, veterans and their families to “rally once again ‘round the flag” and contact your senators and representatives, encouraging them to become co-sponsors of this legislation.
In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark, but erroneous, decision in Texas v. Johnson (5-4 vote) overturned 200 years of American tradition and laws by declaring that the people no longer had a right to protect the American flag. The court ruled flag burning was protected “speech” as defined by the First Amendment, and invalidated laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
In his book “Making Patriots,” eminent constitutional scholar Walter Berns writes:
“Under what is now the prevailing view of the First Amendment…men retain the right to speak as they please, regardless of the consequences of their speech, because the government is forbidden to weigh those consequences or take them into account. Just as Congress may not make any law favoring religion, especially one religion over another, so it may not favor, or put the weight of its authority behind, one or another view of republican government. Accordingly, while Americans, out of habit, might continue to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands,” the Republic itself stands for nothing in particular, which means the flag stands for nothing in particular. This, of course, was not the view of those who designed it. For them the flag, and its ceremonies, was one of the means of promoting patriotism…They saw it as the symbol of this new country, this novus ordo seclorum, a country dedicated to the principles set down in the Declaration of Independence: liberty, equality of opportunity, and religious toleration. Its friends pledge allegiance to it and salute it, and its enemies burn it.”
In reaction to the Supreme Court’s flawed decision, the petitions by 50 states legislatures and the wishes of 80 percent of Americans, the Citizens Flag Alliance (CFA) was founded by The American Legion to return to the people their right to protect Old Glory.
Only a constitutional amendment can protect the flag. Rather than fearing such a constitutional amendment, members of Congress concerned about supporting the amendment should embrace it. It is a profound demonstration of the feeling of the American people, and is the people’s time-honored way of correcting erroneous constitutional interpretations of the Supreme Court. The proposed flag-protection amendment is no infringement on the Bill of Rights; it is instead, a wonderful exercise in the popular sovereignty the Bill of Rights was designed to protect.