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IS FLAG BURNING PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT 21700 If a jerk burns a flag America is not threatened If a jerk burns a flag democracy is not under siege If a jerk burns a flag freedom is not at risk and we are not threatened My colleagues we are offended and to change our Constitution because someone offends us is in itself unconscionable -- Rep Gary Ackerman D-New York It has been held by the United States Supreme Court that burning an American flag as means of expression or peaceful political protest is an act that is fully protected under the first amendment Government does not have the power to prohibit flag burning simply because they or anyone else may find it offensive However other laws or ordinances such as arson laws or rules governing the use of fire in public places may still be applicable In 1989 a man by the name of Gregory Lee Johnson was active in a political protest When the demonstration was over Johnson set fire to and burned the United States flag in front of the Dallas City Hall Surrounding protesters chanted America the red white and blue we spit on you While watching the flag go up in flames Katsh 128 Johnson was arrested for violating a Texas flag desecration statute He was convicted sentenced and fined The court of appeals for the Fifth District of Texas upheld the conviction The Texas Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals however reversed the decision holding that the conviction violated Johnsons rights guaranteed under the first amendment When the case made it to the United States Supreme Court it was decided that such a statute violated the first amendment and that Johnson had indeed been wrongly convicted Supreme Court Justice William Brennan stated
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