Laws §§ 264, 265 1987 ; Mich. The State's emphasis on the protestors' disorderly actions prior to arriving at City Hall is not only somewhat surprising, given that no charges were brought on the basis of this conduct, but it also fails to show that a disturbance of the peace was a likely reaction to Johnson's conduct. Nebraska, 1907 , addressing the validity of a state law prohibiting certain commercial uses of the flag, is not to the contrary. I think when somebody does that to the flag, the flag becomes even more a symbol of the country. Though the asset at stake in this case is intangible, given its unique value, the same interest supports a prohibition on the desecration of the American flag. Codified Laws § 22-9-1 1988 ; Tenn.
We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one's own, no better way to counter a flag burner's message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by -- as one witness here did -- according its remains a respectful burial. President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the use of the flag on labels, packages, cartons, and containers intended for export as lend-lease aid, in order to inform people in other countries of the United States' assistance. A Texas claims that its interest in preventing breaches of the peace justifies Johnson's conviction for flag desecration. . The State's argument is not that it has an interest simply in maintaining the flag as a symbol of something, no matter what it symbolizes; indeed, if that were the State's position, it would be difficult to see how that interest is endangered by highly symbolic conduct such as Johnson's. Our precedents do not countenance such a presumption. Had he chosen to spraypaint -- or perhaps convey with a motion picture projector -- his message of dissatisfaction on the facade of the Lincoln Memorial, there would be no question about the power of the Government to prohibit his means of expression.
To paraphrase Justice Holmes, we submit that nobody can suppose that this one gesture of an unknown man will change our Nation's attitude towards its flag. O'Brien, , 1968 ; Spence, supra, at , n. That same night, Mark John Haggerty set fire to a U. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the Texas statute was unconstitutional as applied to Mr. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, holding that the State, consistent with the First Amendment, could not punish Johnson for burning the flag in these circumstances. He argues instead that the State's desire to maintain the flag as a symbol of nationhood and national unity assumes that there is only one proper view of the flag.
One is the preservation of the flag as a symbol of nationhood and national unity. Moreover, this Court will not create an exception to these principles protected by the First Amendment for the American flag alone. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents. Kennedy is buried while permitting others to salute the flame by bowing their heads. Most were passed by the States at about the time of World War I. To conclude that the government may permit designated symbols to be used to communicate only a limited set of messages would be to enter territory having no discernible or defensible boundaries.
It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours. Such freedom, of course, is not absolute. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that neither interest supported his conviction. Even if we were to find that this argument is properly raised here, however, we would conclude that it has no merit in these circumstances. Johnson then filed petition for discretionary review to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. About the materials These materials were developed for students of various skill levels, and teachers should choose the level that works best for their students.
However, his opinion was more like Kennedy's concurrence in the sense that it was built more on evocative rhetoric than doctrinal analysis. For more than 200 years, the American flag has occupied a unique position as the symbol of our Nation, a uniqueness that justifies a governmental prohibition against flag burning in the way respondent Johnson did here. Whether Johnson's treatment of the flag violated Texas law thus depended on the likely communicative impact of his expressive conduct. Maryland, , 1970 ; O'Brien, 391 U. According to the chief justice, flag burning evinces a distinct lack of respect for the memory of those who have fought and died for the cause of liberty in the United States.
This is one of those rare cases. To gain access, simply sign in. We cannot here ask another Branch to share responsibility, as when the argument is made that a statute is flawed or incomplete. While burning the flag might be considered expressive conduct, Rehnquist argued, the state of Texas, as well as every other state in the Union, has a compelling interest in preserving it from destruction and desecration. The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, to which he belonged, was vociferously protesting the policies of Ronald Reagan and certain corporations. Johnson, was convicted under a Texas statute which prohibits desecration of the national flag.
Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent. He did lead a march through the streets of Dallas, and conducted a rally in front of the Dallas City Hall. Brief for Respondent 12, n. Because no arrests were made for breaching the peace, the Court held, the government's interest in preventing disorder was not implicated in this case. The national flag, the government contended, is the country's most visceral image of nationhood, reflecting the solidarity of the 50 states for the common good. Scores of individuals organized a political protest in Dallas that voiced opposition to Reagan administration policies and those of some Dallas-based corporations. § 176 k , and Texas has no quarrel with this means of disposal.
Nor was the jury in this case told that it could convict Johnson of flag desecration if it found only that he had uttered words critical of the flag and its referents. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. In a 5—4 decision the U. Gregory Lee Johnson appealed the arrest and fine sparked by his flag-burning activities by stating that the Dallas police department had violated his 1st Amendment rights. The only evidence offered by the State at trial to show the reaction to Johnson's actions was the testimony of several persons who had been seriously offended by the flag burning. Instead, it must be to protect others from experiencing a radically different attitude towards and interpretation of the flag.
Law § 136 McKinney 1988 ; N. Over Barbara Frietchie's grave, Flag of Freedom and Union, wave! § 30-21-4 1984 ; N. If those ideas are worth fighting for -- and our history demonstrates that they are -- it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection from unnecessary desecration. The court concluded that the State could not criminally sanction flag desecration in order to preserve the flag as a symbol of national unity. In evaluating these choices under the First Amendment, how would we decide which symbols were sufficiently special to warrant this unique status? Such opposition is no proper basis for restricting speech or expression under the First Amendment.