GOP Senator Reintroduces Constitutional Amendment to Ban Desecration of US Flag

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) on June 14 reintroduced a constitutional amendment that seeks to to ban the desecration of the American Flag, commemorating Flag Day.

“The American flag is a symbol of liberty and a beacon of hope. It represents the ideals that our nation was built upon and for decades, brave men and women have carried its colors into battle to defend the United States of America,” Daines said in a statement.

“The Stars and Stripes are a representation of freedom. We must always protect and respect the American flag.”

The Montana Republican made his announcement on Monday, which was also Flag Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. The holiday was made permanent by President Harry Truman in 1949.

The amendment is co-sponsored by GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.

“Today, and every day, we remember those who have fought to defend the ideals represented by our Stars and Stripes. In honor of #FlagDay I’m continuing my efforts to prohibit the burning & physical desecration of the American flag,” Daines added on Twitter.

“We must always protect and respect this symbol of freedom.”

The Republican senator previously pushed similar amendments on June 14 in 2017, 2018 and 2019. He previously released a report (pdf) titled: “American Flag burning: 50 offensive acts since 2014.”

The burning of the American flag is a protected form of self expression under the First Amendment. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the act was constitutionally protected as free speech.

Former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan ruled at the time that it “would be odd … that the government may ban the expression of certain disagreeable ideas on the unsupported presumption that their very disagreeableness will provoke violence.”

However, constitutional amendments can be made if two-thirds of both chambers of Congress agree on a proposal and it is ratified by three-fourths of states, or if a convention is called by two-thirds of state legislatures backing the proposed amendments.

Former President Donald Trump in 2019 called Daines’ constitutional amendment a “no-brainer” and said that he was “all-in.”

“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has long argued against amending the Constitution to prohibit the burning of the U.S. flag.

“Our democracy is strong because we tolerate all peaceful forms of expression, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel or how much we disagree,” the group argues. “The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed that the right to desecrate the flag is included in the Constitution’s protection of speech.”

“Flag burning and desecration is offensive precisely because it is political. Experience shows that the way to fight political expression with which one disagrees is not to outlaw it, as Congress has repeatedly sought to do, but to express disapproval,” the group states on its website.

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