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First Amendment Center Online staff

The 110th Congress will consider flag-desecration amendments in 2008. Three versions — two in the House and one in the Senate — have been introduced since January 2007.

House Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and introduced on Jan. 5, 2007, would give Congress and the states the power to make flag desecration illegal and establish criminal penalties.

Senate Joint Resolution 40, sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is identical. It was introduced on June 12.

House Joint Resolution 12, sponsored by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and introduced on Jan. 11, 2007, would give Congress the power to make flag desecration illegal. It does not include a provision to establish criminal penalties for desecrating the flag.

Both House resolutions have been sent to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. The Senate resolution was sent to the Judiciary Committee.


Senate subcommittee approves flag amendment
Sen. Russell Feingold criticizes measure, saying it would 'permit the government to criminalize conduct that, however misguided and wrong, is clearly expressive.' 06.03.04

63% oppose flag-burning amendment, new survey shows
First Amendment Center State of the First Amendment 2005 survey: Support for amending Constitution drops to 35%; measure awaiting House vote would give Congress power to punish flag desecration. 06.10.05

House again passes flag-burning amendment
Opponents say amending Constitution unnecessary, noting flag-burning incidents are few and far between. 06.22.05

10th Circuit panel hears arguments in Utah flag case
Judges seem dismayed that police, prosecutors who charged man for burning 'smiley face' into flag could be unaware of Supreme Court's ruling in Texas v. Johnson. 08.18.05

Frist announces new push for flag amendment
Senate majority leader's position puts him at odds with Republican Whip Mitch McConnell, a leading opponent of constitutional ban on flag-burning. 03.13.06

Senate committee OKs flag amendment
Measure moves toward full Senate consideration this month; foes, supporters say it could be within one vote of passing. 06.15.06

Opposition to flag-burning amendment unites Senate leaders
Republican Mitch McConnell, Democrat Dick Durbin — each their party's second-ranking senator — say protecting free speech takes precedence. 06.26.06

Flag-desecration amendment fails in Senate
Measure falls one vote short of two-thirds majority needed to pass.
  • How they voted 06.27.06

    Flag-protection group vows continued fight
    Citizens Flag Alliance 'disappointed' by narrow defeat of flag-desecration amendment in Senate; House passes measure to bar condos, homeowner associations from restricting flag displays.
  • How they voted 06.28.06

    Patriotism, dissent and the American flag
    By Melanie Bengtson In first of six lectures on First Amendment values, First Amendment Center founder analyzes history of flag, practice of burning it in protest. PODCAST VIDEO 10.13.06

    Federal judge: Iowa flag-desecration statutes unenforceable
    Court agrees that laws violate 14th Amendment due-process clause, rejects arguments that they infringe on First Amendment free-speech rights. 03.29.07

    3 Yale students charged with burning American flag
    Flag was hanging from porch of private home; charges include arson, reckless endangerment. 04.04.07

    Justice Stevens shares changed thinking about flag desecration
    By Tony Mauro Dissenter in flag rulings says: 'Today, one could not burn a flag without reminding every observer that we cherish our freedom.' 11.28.06

    Flag-desecration questions: State of the First Amendment 2005

    Patriotism and politics: the rush to rewrite the Constitution
    By Ken Paulson Proposal to ban flag-burning wouldn't just be a resolution or even a law that could be struck down — this proposal would be a permanent constitutional amendment curtailing our basic freedom to protest. 06.15.03

    Burning the Bill of Rights to save the flag
    By Paul K. McMasters It's a uniquely American right to speak through our flag, and uniquely un-American to try to ban or punish symbolic political speech — as the Senate looks poised to do. 09.10.04

    Don't burn Constitution to save flag
    By Nat Hentoff Current push to pass flag-desecration amendment puts us perilously close to undercutting the freedom for which our flag stands. 05.30.06

    Flag Burning and Free Speech

    Last system update: Thursday, November 13, 2008 | 23:20:53
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