Protecting the Flag

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The movement to grant the flag constitutional protection is picking up momentum in Washington. According to USA TODAY the amendment is currently shy by one vote in the Senate:

WASHINGTON -- The Senate is one vote away from passing a constitutional amendment that would ban desecration of the U.S. flag, the closest that amendment supporters have been to passage.

The American Legion, which supports the amendment, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes it, both say there are 66 votes to pass it.

Whether advocates can find the 67th vote to send the flag amendment to the states for ratification remains unclear. A Senate vote is set for the week of June 26.

The House of Representatives last year approved the flag amendment 286-130. It was the seventh time it had done so since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law banning flag burning in 1989. The next year, the court ruled that the federal Flag Protection Act violated the First Amendment's free speech guarantee.

Four times in the Senate, the flag measure has failed to receive the two-thirds majority required of constitutional amendments. In 2000, the amendment came up four votes short with 63.

All 50 states have approved non-binding resolutions endorsing an amendment. "That is unprecedented and shouldn't be ignored," American Legion legislative director Steve Robertson says. "We will see if the senators are listening to their constituents or not."

Thirty-eight, or three-fourths, of the 50 states must ratify the measure to make it the 28th Amendment.
An amendment protecting the flag against desecration is not one I'm enthusiastic about, but if there's enough support for its passage then I see no harm done. Those who get off on burning the American flag will just have to find something else to do that is both offensive and protected by the First Amendment.