Iowa Man Criminally Charged For Flying American Flag Upside Down

There is a highly disturbing story out of Somers, Iowa where Homer Martz was reportedly charged for flying a U.S. flag upside down in protest over an oil pipeline put near his home. It is clearly a protected act under the First Amendment, but the town of Somers appears to lack a single lawyer — or a telephone number for a single lawyer — to explain free speech protections to them.

Martz reportedly put the upside down flag under the Chinese flag.  He was enraged by  the pipeline set to be placed without his consent next to his water well.  He added a sign reading “In China there is no freedom, no protesting, no due process. In Iowa? In America?”

There is still an Iowa law making flag desecration is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. Iowa code 718A criminalizes “publicly mutilate, deface, defile or defy, trample upon, cast contempt upon, satirize, deride or burlesque, either by words or act, such flag, standard, color, ensign, shield, or other insignia of the United States, or flag, ensign, great seal, or other insignia of this state.”

It is one of 40 such state laws, but it is presumptively unconstitutional.  In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson491 U.S. 397 (1989), that prohibitions on desecrating the American flag were unconstitutional.  Obviously, if you can burn a flag, you can fly it upside down. If that were not enough for Somers police and officials, the Court ruled in 1990 in United States v. Eichman496 U.S. 310 (1990) that a federal law against flag desecration violated the First Amendment.

Marty is a veteran and said that he would never has flown the flag upside had he known it was illegal.  It isn’t illegal but his town does not appear to realize it.

21 thoughts on “Iowa Man Criminally Charged For Flying American Flag Upside Down

  1. Yes, the charge was thrown out as soon as the prosecutor got into court on Monday, August 15. Look it up on the Iowa courts website.

    There is another constitutional issue that this event brings to mind. Oliver Wendell Holmes and his advocacy of (and constitutional support for) eugenics. Maybe the arresting police or deputies or whatever they are should be calling their doctors today and making an appointment for a little population-reducing and possibly gene-pool-improving outpatient snippity snip procedure. They have exposed themselves as insufficiently bright to be public servants and if Holmes was right, it would be best for society to take their genes out of the gene pool.

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