Trump Supports Flag Burning Amendment

Today President Donald Trump declared support for a new constitutional amendment to allow Congress to override the First Amendment and criminalize the burning of the American flag. The legislation for the amendment was reintroduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R- Montana) and Sen Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota). While I consider flag burning (of any country) to be deeply offensive, there is no need for such an amendment to combat the extremely few incidents of flag burning. It is certainly a popular political cause, but we should not amend the Constitution to reduce free speech, particularly given the low number of flag burnings.

 Trump tweeted “All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!”

Is the opposite of a “no brainer” a “brainer”? If so this is a brainer. Many of revere the flag and consider its burning to be a terrible act of contempt for those who gave their lives in its defense. It is the same reason that I oppose those protesting during the anthem. However, I do not think that we should clutter the Constitution with such narrow exceptions. I also do not support amending a constitution to limit rather than expand free speech. Free speech is already under attack in the West. We should not open the door to insular exceptions to this defining right.

What do you think?

118 thoughts on “Trump Supports Flag Burning Amendment”



    The media, which are always enamored of polls, are really loving them right now.

    That’s because they show President Trump getting his butt kicked.

    And while the latest numbers certainly aren’t good for the president, I’m going to flash a giant yellow warning light here.

    It’s early, as everyone knows, but the problems run deeper than that.

    The pundits are agog over a new Quinnipiac University survey that shows Joe Biden clobbering Trump, 53 to 40 percent.

    Not only that, but other Democrats beat Trump by lesser margins: Bernie Sanders (51 to 42 percent). Kamala Harris (49 to 41). Elizabeth Warren (49 to 42). Pete Buttigieg (47 to 42). Cory Booker (47 to 42).

    The Q poll is widely respected, but here’s the thing:

    If Joe or Bernie or Kamala or one of the others is up against Trump in November of 2020, he or she is not going to be seen by the public as the same person as during the current campaign spring training period.

    The eventual nominee will have endured a year and a half of denunciations by Trump, his campaign, his allies, and his surrogates. That’s along with millions of dollars in negative advertising by pro-Trump and independent groups and constant attacks from conservatives in the media.

    Edited from: “How Much Do Polls Showing Dems Trouncing Trump Really Mean?”

    Fox News, 6/13/19

    1. Regarding Above:

      Comically the writer reassures Fox followers that Republicans will no doubt wage a nasty war on the Democrats “with millions of dollars in negative advertising”.

      I would like to think Democrats are vastly more popular than Trump. But that may not be the case. This poll numbers might really indicate what’s known as “Trump Fatigue”.

      That is the public is overloaded by Trump. He craves attention too much. There are too many controversies and too much polarization.

      At this point the public might welcome any president who speaks in measured phrases. A cheerful president who says positive things. That might be what the public desperately wants. If Trump was smart ‘he’ would try to be like that.

        1. “according to a person close to the campaign.”

          IOW, the ‘reporter’ made it up.

    2. “The eventual nominee will have endured a year and a half of denunciations by Trump”.
      A.— The Democratic nominee will be chosen c. 3-4 months before the election. Let’s say the “presumptive nominee” has it pretty well wrapped up by April or May 2020.
      That is roughly 6-7 months before the election that “the eventual nominee” would be the target of “denunciations by Trump”, not a year and a half.

      B— Note that I said “would be”, not “will be”. That 6-7 months potentially, 🤔 IF Trump were to run the kind campaign that involved him denouncing his opponent.
      And I can’t imagine him running that kind of campaign.🤭😉

      Incidently, Oddsshark, the British betting/ oddsmakers site that includes U.S. elections ( mostly illegal in do in Vegas, or most other U.S.jurisdictions, I think) now has Trump at even-odds to be re-elected in 2020.
      I haven’t checked the other big bookie, London’s Ladbrokes. The two oddsmakers are usually at least roughly in line with each other.
      The odds of the 2020 campaign being the most gaffe-prone prone in history if Biden is nominated are about 99 out of 100.🤓

      1. I don’t want Biden. No one over 70! I’m glad he’s the front runner now because they usually don’t last. Being the front runner too early can be the kiss of death.

        1. Also, I don’t know what kind of shape Biden will be in, if he wins the nomination.
          By that time, he’ll have gone through roughly a year of a lot of Democratic opponents beating up on him.
          And each other. A lot of Trump’s “denunciation work” will have been done for him by the Democratic field of candidates; by the time the Trump gets around to seriously trash talking whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, the field of potential nominees will have already “denounced” the eventual nominee in negative ads, campaign speeches, interviews, etc.

        2. Being the front runner too early can be the kiss of death.

          Well, in June of the following years, the situation was thus per Real Clear Politics:

          2015 (R): Bush leading, no clear 2d finisher. Trump blows them all out of the water before the end of July.

          2015 (D): Clinton leading; Sanders established as runner up.

          2011 (R): Romney; no clear runner up.

          2007 (R): Giuliani, Thompson, McCain.
          2007 (D); Clinton, Obama, sundry (led by Edwards and Al Gore)

          NB, Bush’s hold on the front-runner position in 2015 was quite insecure and he’d been topped now and again by Christie, Walker, and Rubio.


          2003 (D): Lieberman, Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards

          1999 (R): George W Bush; fragments to rest
          1999 (D): Gore, Bradley.

  2. “Today President Donald Trump declared support for a new constitutional amendment to allow Congress to override the First Amendment and criminalize the burning of the American flag.”

    I disagree. It is a form of hate speech protected by the First Amendment, although certainly vile. Our military died to give people the right to say stupid things about our country. Racist organizations have the First Amendment right to say what they want to, and hateful flag burners have the legal right to desecrate our flag.

    However, to burn or otherwise disrespect the flag in front of people, is kind of like shrieking obscenities at a stranger about their mother. Not a good idea.

    This is an example of cultural degradation. Society should look down upon flag burners. It should not be considered an excusable act, and certainly not valorous, but it should not be against the law. The peer pressure of society should in general be negative. Unfortunately, academia has become taken over by Leftism, in which such disrespect is drilled into students as being some kind of message. The more Leftism grows, the more often such offensive acts against the flag take place. It takes an extreme form of thoughtlessness, given that we spend more than any other country that I know of to help others around the world. We are right there to help after any international disaster. We give humanitarian aid every day. Our poor people are overweight, food is so abundant (barring the homeless who are too high or mad to eat). It’s rather like the entitled teenager complaining about how hard they have it. Their parents would tell them they should spend some time in Africa to see how hard things can really be, so they should count their blessings. The young have no frame of reference. Many receive everything they want from their parents, and yet they despise the country that allowed them such freedoms. It reminds me of my first big job. There was a minor cut in benefits one year, and some of us relatively new hires were talking about how disappointing that was. A lab supervisor talked about what benefits were like in other major companies, and I realized how very lucky we were.

  3. Among our most fundamental and cherished rights is the right to criticize our government peacefully without fear of reprisal. Flags, anthems, and oaths are just symbols and tokens of our nation. Refusing to take part in these rituals, or burning or defiling a flag that is one’s own property is only really harmful if you mistake mere symbols and rituals for the actual USA. Our country is our shared belief in our constitution, not these symbols or rituals. The fact that so many Americans revere symbols and rituals, but not the rights and legal concepts described in the constitution is a critical failing. Other lesser countries cherish blood, soil, flags, and anthems instead of democratic ideals. Americans fought and died not for patriotic trappings, but for our democratic ideals including and especially the freedom to peacefully protest the government!

  4. While existing Supreme Court precedent (Texas v. Johnson) authorizes flag burning as a type of “free speech,” it seems to me that the Supreme Court’s definition of “speech” has gone far afield from what most people think of (and the Founding Fathers thought of) as “speech.” In my view conduct (for example, various types of dancing) is not “speech,” and it should not be treated as if it is. By treating “freedom of speech” as something different and separate from “freedom of the press,” the Founding Fathers either (a) intended a narrow definition of speech, or (b) engaged in unnecessary redundancy, because the broad definition of “speech” would necessarily include “the press.” In either case, the existing precedent is not faithful to the language of the First amendment. And for that reason, in my opinion, Texas v. Johnson and other cases treating conduct as speech should be overturned by the Court.

    1. So, you presume to know what most people of and the founding Fathers thought of) as “speech” and then you irrationally posit that by including the term speech in the text of the in the First Amendment the Founding Fathers “intended a narrow definition of speech,…” This is a patently absurd.bit of mental flatulence.Speech implies the deliverance of a message and a message can be expressed written or spoken, sung, signed, acted out, or gestured. If we were skyping you’d see that my middle finger is expressing a silent but well understood message concerning your apparent willingness to allow the government to penalize expressions of dissent, and particularly disgust at the phoniness of flag worship.

  5. Burn anything.

    Either speech is free or it isn’t — and the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect all speech regardless of content.

    It’s absolutely hilarious that the most “American” Americans are often the most un-American.

  6. I say we ban any discussion of banning the burning of the flag and give violators the maximum punishment.


    No flag burning incident on U.S. soil have made the news lately. So why is Trump raising this issue?

    1) The administration possibly has no proof regarding Iran and the mining of oil tankers.

    2) The George Stephanopolis interview went badly for Trump.

    3) Budget talks are faltering in Congress which could lead to another shut-down.

    4) Internal Republican polls show Trump losing to almost every Democratic candidate.

    5) Trump’s tarif threats on Mexico backfired creating an annoying mess of an issue.

    6) All of the above.

  8. Professor JT, I couldn’t agree more. Burning the flag is deeply offensive to me. It’s also -The epitome of freedom-

  9. Burning the flag can be seen as an exercise of free speech similar to the kneeling issue. Also isn’t burning the flag seen as a proper way to dispose of a flag?

  10. You don’t disgrace the symbol of our freedom or those that placed there lives in danger to protect that freedom. You disrespect my country you disrespect me.

    1. Well you’re wrong. The “symbol of our freedom” represents the freedom to destroy symbols, which therefore includes that very flag. If you can’t separate the two, that’s your problem.

  11. I disagree with Professor Turley that burning the flag of any country is necessarily offensive. Burning the Nazi flag at any opportunity would have been quite fine with me, and absolutely necessary for that matter, to demonstrate symbolically the contempt that Nazism deserved, as part of an equally necessary rebellion against that totalitarian cancer, which seems to be having a dismaying resurgence through just such instances as what Trump is up to here.

    It is also crucial to point out that it is not the burning of the American flag per se that is ever behind attempts to make it illegal. What is sought to be banned is the burning of the American flag with a specific intent to communicate what is regarded as a negative message about the United States. As one comment has already alluded to here, flags are burned routinely by certain parties, such as the military, as a way of sanctifying them on various occasions, say, when a particular flag might need to be retired because it is worn out. Therefore, objections to burning the flag, which seek to make burning it illegal, are the quintessential form of viewpoint discrimination (assuming that there is no fire hazard in view), which could not be more fundamentally antithetical to First Amendment principles. I’ve never understood why it is that, in a society that is really interested in freedom of speech, the flag should ever be given special pleading in the law, other than because it is a symbol to which many feel a particularly deep emotional attachment, even if that attachment may be based on association with the noblest actions and ideals. However, this is irrelevant from the standpoint of freedom of speech, which is ironically also a noble ideal which the flag is supposed to represent. If you believe in freedom of speech, then you do not get to sequester your favored symbol that no one is then allowed to use to communicate anything negative using that symbol or about that symbol, not if you want freedom of speech that is not menaced by totalitarian impulses (like those on view with Trump here and the Republican Party for many decades) – impulses that could make the American flag become just like the Nazi flag through its enabling the sanctification of totalitarian government. As Arundati Roy once put it, “Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments first use to shrink-wrap people’s brains and then as shrouds to bury the dead.”

    To burn the flag might be bad form in a given case, deeply insensitive or obnoxious in certain circumstances. People do it insultingly, frivolously, ineffectively. All true, and they should be held morally accountable for this. But it can also be, and it has been in the past, a very powerful means of protest against the malfeasance of a government which would cloak itself in the flag to give itself false patriotic cover for quite unpatriotic acts. Against the law? No F’n way, not in any United States I would want to live in. No one who would be free would seek to legally prohibit the burning of the flag, and no one who is free feels threatened by this expressive act standing alone. On the contrary, the project of seeking to ban burning the flag should be ruthlessly called out for what it invariably is: an attempt to create a sacred cow and then to associate oneself with it in order to bury the criticism of one’s political opponents.

  12. Just like everytime before this flag burning issue has come up the simplest solution remains , without the need of a USC amendment, is to just pass a Fed law that imposes a felony, fines/prison for anyone that burns any US flag other then a US flag made out of non-burnable material.

    There issue fixed, everyone’s happy. 😉

  13. Trump does not give a damn about flag burning… this is just another one of his thousands of misdirection maneuvers to appear ‘patriotic’… so he can lead us into another preemptive war. In Trump’s arrogance he believes it is easy to divert the attention of citizens away from his corruption and managerial follys.

    1. You don’t give a rip about corruption or managerial follies. No Democrat does. They just want payola directed to their clientele.

    2. Did you say “…corruption and managerial follies?”

      That’s the very definition of Obongo who violated the Constitution on presidential eligibility and made a global-class mess.

      You have a huuuuuuuuge surprise coming!

      The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious scandal in American political history.

      The co-conspirators are:

      Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Comey, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic, Yates, Baker,

      Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove, Steele, Simpson,

      Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan “The Walrus” Halper, Azra Turk, Kerry, Hillary,

      Huma, Mills, Brennan, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power, Lynch, Rice, Jarrett, Holder, Brazile,

      Sessions, Obama et al.

  14. Like Hillary and John McCain before him, Trump seems not to realize that as disgusting as it is, the fact that citizens can burn their flag is a testament to our nation.

    1. Yeah, in a world awash in humbug, I really care that some okupier can burn the flag without getting a citation.

    1. That from CATO, part of the libertarian coterie who don’t give a rip about anything but the drug laws. Scroom.

  15. In the extant monarchy before the Constitution and Bill of Rights, subjects could not insult the King. Freedom of speech allows any and all citizens to “…insult the King.” Flag burning is a statement or speech which insults the nation, the equivalent of the King. Ergo, citizens may “…insult the King,” engage in free speech and burn the flag.

    Presumably, America exists as the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution and patriotic American citizens are content. The dichotomy arises that those who licitly burn the flag are simultaneously anti-American communists and direct, mortal enemies of America and the Constitution, thus, in their case, the act must be considered no different from that of Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg, existentially threatening treason, deserving of the same penalty.

  16. This is why I hated the Rep’s back in the day. Trump is being real stupid.

    1. Except that the anti flag burning act of 2005 which was sponsored by Bob Bennett of Utah, was cosponsored by Hillary Clinton of New York.
      Repression is often bipartisan. Get off your gang warfare mentality

      1. I’m a long time Trump supporter, but I do have red lines. Starting another insane war is one and ANY restriction on speech is another. You should get off your gang warfare mentality.

        1. “back in the day” meant the late 80’s. Now I hate both “parties” but voted Trump.

  17. The preferred method of disposing of an old, worn flag is by burning. That might lead to some sticky situations.

  18. If President Trump is for it, then it will force the Democrats to go on the record to be against it. Win/Win. 😎

    1. Therefore, if Trump is for mass murder and Democrats oppose him, he wins? Does it ever become weary of having to find a way to support everything he does? Family separation, ignoring the security clearance rules, conflicts of interest, lies? Not to mention the actual crimes.

    2. Yeah, Olly, it’s known as a “Stupid Test”; some frivolous issue having no relevance whatsoever But it comes up because Republicans want Democrats to oppose it.

  19. I think that at the state level, Republican legislators commonly waste their time on gimmicks (say, a bill to increase penalties for petty drug dealing within x yards of a school, or some other law named after an unfortunate moppet, or tax cuts which will have to be rescinded later because the failure theater specialists cannot agree on the necessary spending cuts) in lieu of actual accomplishment. The appearance of this in Congress is unremarkable.

    The real problem is that we live in clown world, and our political class is incompetent and contemptible (and that includes the clown judges and their shallow smart-assed clerks who’ve saddled the public square with the notion of ‘speech-acts’). Those of us who participate here get a double dose of the views of people who deserve the incompetent and contemptible.

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