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Texas v. Johnson - The 1st Amendment Right to Burn the American Flag: Something You May Not Have Known [148]

Updated on January 8, 2017
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ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.


YOU MAY NOT HAVE EVER HEARD OF TEXAS v. JOHNSON, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), and reaffirmed in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), but you probably have heard of it, especially conservatives, as the infamous Supreme Court ruling which allowed the buring of the American flag as an expression of free speech. It is a decision I opposed then and I still oppose today. But, since it has been made, it is, until it is overturned by a subsequent Supreme Court decision, which I hope happens, or a Constitituional Amendendment is passed, which I would also support, that says something different, it IS the Law of the Land and the President must and should enforce it.

Briefly, the case was about a flag burning in Texas which violated a Texas statute against burning the American flag. It made its way through the court system to the Supreme Court. Now, the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

  1. Did you know what was NOT covered under the Texas statute and was OK to burn in protest? Why it was the Constitution of the United States of course, I wonder why?
  2. Do you know who the deciding vote way in this very close 5-4 decision? ... Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia, one of the two most conservative justices on the court at the time. Go figure.

I thought curious minds would want to know.

Manhart's Own Desecration

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UPDATE 4/20/15

THIS ISSUE CAME UP AGAIN AT VALDOSTA UNIVERSITY in Georgia. In this case demonstrators protesting the violence against blacks was using the flag as a symbol of their slavery, once real and now a near reality for many blacks. They protested this condition by tromping on the American Flag as part of the protest; quite legal given the above Supreme Court ruling.

This had been going on for days when Michelle Manhart, a former Air Force vet, took notice and complained to the university about the desecration. Manhart has had her own issues with the flag in that she was reprimanded by the Air Force for appearing in Playboy in uniform with a flag draped over her; in this case she was "honoring" the flag. The Air Force took exception to either or all of 1) appearing in Playboy, 2) wearing the uniform in Playboy, and/or 3) having the flag draped over her. She was demoted and soon left the Air Force under, according to her, honorable conditions. (Her husband is still serving in the Air Force deployed overseas.) Further, she has appeared nude (appropriate parts hidden by arms or legs) on the cover of xxxx with the flag displayed behind her. In another nude picture, she had little American flags covering her nipples.

Michelle's complaints to the university amounted to nothing, so on or about April 19, 2015, she took matters into her own hands. She went to the university during one of the protests and took the flag away from the protesters (which I applaud) in order to allegedly properly dispose of it given it had been used in many protests. A scuffle broke out as the protesters tried to take it back; they lost. The campus police tried to do the same; it took three of them and, judging from the video, a lot of effort to wrest control of the flag away from her. Ultimately the police detained her, threatened to file federal charges of some sort, but then let her go. The Valdosta University has banned her from its campus.

Do I condone her actions with Playboy, no, especially the one with the flag draped on the floor. Do I support her "protest" at Valdosta, yes; illegal though it may be.

© 2012 Scott Belford


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