Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flag-burning farce

The constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning has once again failed in the Senate, this time by only one vote. The vote was 66-34 (it needed 2/3 to pass).

This raises the question: are the amendment's supporters stupid or insincere? Weighing in on the side of insincere is Robert Bluey of Human Events. He argues that the amendment would have passed if the GOP really wanted it to. They could have whipped the members and found one more vote for it. What he doesn't mention is that one of the three Republicans who voted against the proposed amendment is Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Whip. Another was Bob Bennett, his deputy.

I support banning flag-burning, but I oppose this amendment. First of all, this isn't exactly the most important issue in the world. It isn't worth amending the Constitution. But beyond that, a constitutional amendment is absolutely the wrong strategy.

The whole reason that this amendment was proposed at all is that about fifteen years ago, the Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that flag-burning is "speech" which is protected by the First Amendment. The flag-burning amendment is case-in-point that trying to amend the Constitution in response to every bad Supreme Court decision is a terrible strategy. Yet no matter how many times it doesn't work, conservatives never seem to learn.

The right answer is to strip jurisdiction from the courts over this issue. This is the proper response to abuse of judicial power, and it has the added benefit of being easier to pass. (It needs only 50 votes, or 60 with a filibuster.) If conservatives had tried this, flag-burning would have been banned years ago.

Another problem with the amendment is that it would give Congress the power to ban flag-burning, but the issue should be decided at the local, not federal level.

The problem is the courts, not the Constitution.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Flag burning is not speech, it's vandalism. I'd rather see some Vietnam Vets beat the snot out of a flag-burner than have the constitution altered. Take justice to the lowest possible level. This "act" does not rise to constitutional level and is simply an election year folly.

A.J. said...

Vandalism? No. It's the most heinous act of disrespect I can imagine. As a veteran, I say that a flag burner might as well just spit on the graves of every single dead American soldier, as well as in the faces of all those who serve now. My question is: Why is it okay to pass a law that makes it illegal to protest within 500 feet of a soldier's funeral, but not to pass a law banning burning our flag? Is protesting not speech? Very few people called that law out of line. Very few attacked it as election year pandering tactics.
I've just always found it odd that people like me, including those who have gone before me, still fight today, and will fight tomorrow, fight to preserve the very rights that individuals use to attack us, our patriotism, and our love for our flag.
The flag is more than just a flag. It's a symbol of strength, unity, and character unmatched by any other country on this planet. Millions have served to protect it and what it represents. Burning it is disrespecting them and their efforts.

dali said...

As a Girl Scout Leader, I fear what may happen to our uniformed girls when we burn old flags to dispose of them. My senators offices assure me we are safe; however, in this post 9/11 government no USA citizen is safe. I refer all to review Wilderness Road Girl Scout Council Flag Ceremony suggestions:” Girl Scout troops learn the proper way to dispose of the flag of the United States of America through flag burning ceremonies. If anyone has a worn flag that is no longer fit for display, they may bring it to the Girl Scout Council and the Girl Scouts will perform flag burning ceremonies to properly dispose of the flags." Too many sheeple do not understand that this is the proper method and the respect way to dispose of US flags, and actually have verbally threatened our Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts! Because of this hot button, election political rhetoric, little girls trying to honor their country must suffer; all the while only trying to do a good deed for their country. For shame Republican Party, for shame Mr. Bush, Mr. Rove, Mr. Cheney. Juliette Low who founded the Girl Scouts just prior to World War I and encouraged Girl Scouts to donate their service to the country is truly weeping.