Flag Burning and the US Congress
Since the Bill of Rights was adopted (Amendments 1 - 10), the US Constitution has been amended 17 times. Only one of those amendments restricted citizen rights -- Prohibition -- and it was subsequently repealed.
In 1968, Congress passed a law prohibiting the desecration of the flag. By 1989, every state except Alaska and Wyoming had companion laws.
Congressional attempts to prohibit flag burning -- or any desecration of the flag -- began in earnest after a 1989 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Texas v Johnson opened the door to burning the flag as a form of political speech protected under the First Amendment. On 18 July 1989, Senators Robert Dole, Alan Dixon, Strom Thurmond, and Howell Heflin proposed a Constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 180, to protect the flag. On 12 September 1989, the House passed HR 2978 (which became the Flag Protection Act of 1989).
The House of Representatives -- whose members stand for re-election every other year -- has perennially supported an amendment prohibiting desecration of the flag. The Senate, on the other hand, has been the brakes on this train. Votes required for passage, two-thirds: 290 in the House and 67 in the Senate, assuming all Congressmen vote.
The Seattle Times reports that Gallup polling shows support for a Constitutional amendment to protect the flag has dropped from 71 percent in 1898 to 55 percent in 2005. (Margin of error not reported.)
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