Flag burning constitutional amendment?  

redmustang91 58M  
8986 posts
6/27/2006 8:33 am
Flag burning constitutional amendment?

Did I miss the news story of the epidemic of US flag burning that is going on? I am unaware that this has been a major problem. On the list of burning issues of the day, exactly where would this matter come? I did not think it was even on the list! Since 1989 when the US Supreme court said protests of this sort were protected first Amendment symbolic speech, there has not been a lot of flag burning in the US. Now around the globe America has pissed off tons of folks happily burning our flag, but this amendment will not affect them. So the Repubs pander to their base while important issues are neglected. Demonize gays, non documented immigrants, the media and flag burners. Is the American public stupid enough to elect these guys based on that agenda? Lately yes.

Burning the Bill of Rights
With the Fourth of July fast approaching, Senate Republicans are holding a barbecue. Unfortunately, instead of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, they are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment's free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

Some things should be out of bounds even in a competitive election year. Messing with the Constitution is one of them.

In reality, of course, the Stars and Stripes are in no urgent need of protection from scruffy match-wielding protesters. The Senate has been debating the flag issue on and off for years – ever since the Supreme Court's 1989 decision holding, quite properly, that flag-burning, however offensive it may seem, is constitutionally protected free speech. The amendment's return – just in time to distract voters from G.O.P. failures on more pressing fronts – might be dismissed as a bad joke except for two things: an intense lobbying campaign on its behalf by the American Legion, and the fact that no lawmaker relishes taking a stand that might be portrayed as unpatriotic, especially in an election year.

The last time the full Senate voted on the amendment, in 2000, the measure came up just four votes short of the required two-thirds. Nose counters on both sides say that supporters of the amendment are now just a single vote shy. That means that when the roll call is taken on the amendment later this week, there are no freebies. On this round, every vote counts. The House has already approved the amendment, and its ratification by the states is virtually certain should the Senate go along.

As an alternative to the amendment, two of its opponents, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, have proposed a statute against flag-burning instead. Unquestionably, passing a law to address this nonproblem is preferable to rewriting the Constitution. But in crafting a bill with a comparatively narrow reach, its sponsors have not cured the affront to free speech. For that reason, it deserves to be defeated.

As debate on the amendment proceeds, past supporters like Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, owe a duty to search their consciences. Each senator must cast a vote as if it is the deciding one. Given the political math, it well could be.

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