Trump Wants to Reinstate Flag Burning Laws

Trump Wants to Reinstate Flag Burning Laws

( – Protests following the death of George Floyd continue to escalate. What began as peaceful protests over the killing of a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, quickly turned into violent clashes with the police and the destruction of property all over the country. Over the weekend, angry rioters in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington state even set fire to American flags, prompting President Trump to call for a change in the flag-burning laws on Monday.

In 2016, candidate Donald Trump suggested that people who burned the American flag should face jail time or lose their citizenship. On Monday, he called the flag burnings a “disgrace.” And he called on the Supreme Court to revisit laws related to using the flag in protest.

Like many of us, Trump is particularly offended by this act. He told governors on Monday that he wanted them to pass new legislation that would prohibit desecrating the flag. The president assured them that they would have his full support if they did.

Previous Attempts to Change the Law

The Supreme Court has previously looked at this issue twice and both times ruled that as offensive as it is, flag burning is protected by the First Amendment. In a 2012 interview with CNN, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that although he did not agree with flag burning, he understood that it was still allowed under the Constitution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also weighed in on the topic. During the 2016 presidential campaign, McConnell broke with Trump and argued that First Amendment rights, including flag burning, must be protected because it would be more dangerous to tinker with the First Amendment than to desecrate the flag.

In 2006, Republicans almost passed a Constitutional amendment on the desecration of the flag. It passed the House with a two-thirds majority, but it came up just one vote short in the Senate. One of the Senate Republicans who voted against the measure was Mitch McConnell, and there is no signal that he would change his vote today.

Perhaps President Trump will have more luck now that he has added Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS bench. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, it appears that the shameful, stomach-turning act of disrespecting the flag may continue if the riots rage on.

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