Flag Amendment lost by one vote!  

redmustang91 57M  
8701 posts
6/28/2006 5:05 am

Last Read:
6/28/2006 7:44 am

Flag Amendment lost by one vote!


Sadly some in the Senate don't understand the concept of the First Amendment. The point of free speech is defending the rights of others to say and do things you do not like! It is easy to defend the rights of popular ideas or political opinions you share.

Flag Amendment Narrowly Fails in Senate Vote
By CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON, June 27 – A proposed Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to prohibit desecration of the flag fell a single vote short of approval by the Senate on Tuesday, an excruciatingly close vote that left unresolved a long-running debate over whether the flag is a unique national symbol deserving of special legal standing.

The 66-to-34 vote on the amendment was one vote short of the 67 required to send the amendment to the states for potential ratification as the 28th Amendment. It was the closest proponents of the initiative have come in four Senate votes since the Supreme Court first ruled in 1989 that flag burning was a protected form of free speech.

The opponents – 30 Democrats, 3 Republicans and an independent – asserted that the amendment would amount to tampering with the Bill of Rights in an effort to eliminate relatively rare incidents of burning the flag. They said it violated the very freedoms guaranteed by the symbolism of the flag.

"This objectionable expression is obscene, it is painful, it is unpatriotic," said Senator Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who won the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. "But I believe Americans gave their lives in many wars to make certain all Americans have a right to express themselves, even those who harbor hateful thoughts."

Proponents of the amendment, which was backed by 52 Republicans and 14 Democrats, disputed the assertion that burning the flag was a form of speech. They said the amendment was simply an effort to reassert Congressional authority after a misguided court ruling. They said it was particularly appropriate to act now when American troops are at risk.

"Old Glory lost today," said Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, who scheduled the debate and vote in the week before Congress broke for its Fourth of July recess.

The full text of the proposed amendment is, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The vote is likely to be an issue in the Congressional elections in November, and Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who was the chief sponsor of the amendment, predicted the minority who opposed it would be held accountable by the voters.

"I think this is getting to where they are not going to be able to escape the wrath of the voters," Mr. Hatch said.

Eleven senators facing re-election this year opposed the amendment and several are facing potentially difficult races, including Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a Republican, and the Democrats Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

The leader of the Citizens Flag Alliance, which had been running newspaper advertisements on the issue in selected states, said it would continue to press the issue and make sure voters know where their senators stand on the amendment.

"I think this is the right thing to do, and I am going to keep at it until we run out of money or they tell me to stop," said Daniel S. Wheeler, an American Legion official who leads the advocacy group.

Prior to the vote on the amendment itself, the Senate voted 64 to 36 against a proposed bill that would have criminalized flag desecration. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second ranking Senate Democrat, said his plan had been written to avoid Supreme Court objections, but backers of the constitutional approach dismissed that idea.

President Bush, whose father was president when the flag fight initially erupted in the aftermath of two high court rulings, said he was disappointed in the outcome. "I commend the senators from both parties who voted to allow the amendment ratification process to protect our flag to go forward, and continue to believe that the American people deserve the opportunity to express their views on this important issue."

The House has routinely approved the flag amendment on bipartisan votes and did so last year. Had the Senate passed the amendment, it would have been likely to win ratification from the required 38 states since, supporters say, all states have endorsed the amendment in some form.

While the amendment gained three votes since it was last considered in 2000, its future prospects are uncertain. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, is in line to become the Republican leader in the next Congress, and he opposes the initiative on free speech grounds. In addition, most analysts expect Republicans to lose Senate seats in the November election.

"This would have been the easiest time to get it through," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who opposed it.

The vote, which came after the Senate earlier this month defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, will not be the last ideologically charged vote in the run-up to the midterm elections. The House Republican leadership announced Tuesday that it plans votes this summer on social issues, including a same-sex marriage amendment, abortion rights, Internet gambling, property rights and the Pledge of Allegiance.

"The American Values Agenda will defend America's founding principles," Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said. "Through this agenda, we will work to protect the faith of our people, the sanctity of life and freedoms outlined by our founding fathers."

And the House on Tuesday approved on a voice vote a proposal that would prohibit condominium associations and other homeowner groups from preventing residents from displaying the flag.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been deeply involved in opposing the amendment for years, credited the senators who took a potentially politically tough vote to block it.

"The Senate came close to torching our Constitution, but luckily it came through unscathed," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the organization's Washington legislative office. "We applaud those brave senators who stood up for the First Amendment and rejected this damaging and needless amendment."

Besides senators up for re-election, the issue also divided lawmakers considered possible presidential candidates in 2008. Those voting yes included Mr. Frist, George Allen of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, all Republicans, and Evan Bayh of Indiana, a Democrat. Voting no on the Democratic side were Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and John Kerry of Massachusetts.

DanaeKC 43F
600 posts
6/28/2006 5:54 am

"The opponents – 30 Democrats, 3 Republicans and an independent – asserted that the amendment would amount to tampering with the Bill of Rights in an effort to eliminate relatively rare incidents of burning the flag. They said it violated the very freedoms guaranteed by the symbolism of the flag."

I agree.


redmustang91 57M  
8559 posts
6/28/2006 7:44 am

I am just glad it lost! Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.


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