2003-05-16 / Community

Legion Stands By Flag

Legion Stands By Flag

If the U.S. Flag is good enough to drape the coffins of America’s honored dead from Iraq and other wars, then it’s good enough to be protected from physical desecration, as it was before a 1989 5-to-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s the position of the 2.8 million member American Legion as Congress considers once again a flag-protection constitutional amendment: "The people shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution heard testimony Wednesday on the amendment. It is expected to pass for a fifth time by the required two-thirds majority in the House. The outcome in the Senate is less certain.

"The Flag of the United States of America is the unifying symbol of our nation," American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley said. "That’s the reason 48 states and the federal government passed laws against flag desecration prior to the Supreme Court’s 1989 ruling. That’s also the reason all 50 state legislatures have petitioned Congress to send them the amendment for ratification.

"We have laws against certain forms of pornography. The Supreme Court recently upheld a law against cross burning. Why? Because the nature of free speech is determined by the values of the people. Judging by the actions of state legislatures and by the 75 percent to 80 percent support for the amendment reflected in numerous polls, it’s clear that the people don’t consider flag desecration free speech. Frankly, neither did the founders of our republic," noted Conley.

"The people want their flag protected. The American Legion stands with the people. Because the Supreme Court, after its landmark 1989 ruling, would not allow Old Glory to be protected by a federal law, a constitutional amendment is the people’s only recourse," concludes Conley.

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