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Honoring our Nation's Flag

Every year Americans celebrate holidays to honor our great country, veteran’s, and military. Sadly, many people often overlook a day of observance dedicated to the one worldwide symbol of freedom and democracy -- the U.S. Flag.

Since adopted by the Continental Congress, the stars and stripes have stood by our military’s side fighting in wars, hanging up in schools and public office building, and at every sports game we turn to her when singing our national anthem, yet we seem to have forgotten its importance and vitality.

In the spirit of Flag Day and honoring our stars and stripes, I want to talk about an issue that is very important to me: protecting our flag. To that end, I am proud to sponsor H.J. Res. 61, which grants Congress constitutional authority to ban the desecration of the United States flag. 

One of the main arguments against this proposed amendment is that it will limit the First Amendment by banning flag desecration. Let me be clear – this amendment would not ban or criminalize flag desecration. This amendment simply affirms Congress’s authority to protect the United States flag by giving states the ability to take a stand on this important issue. In fact, when state laws were first passed in the 1800s, many states made it a felony for anyone to publicly mutilate, deface, defile, or intentionally display the flag on the ground or floor. By 1932, all of the States had adopted various flag desecration statutes, and eventually, upon pressure from the American people and the States, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act of 1968.

Until invalidated in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Texas v. Johnson, 48 states had laws banning flag desecration. This amendment ensures that the American people have the power to protect our most important national symbol by granting Congress the authority to prohibit physical desecration of the flag. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have supported the passage of this amendment. To date, a joint resolution giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag has passed the House six times, most recently in 2005.  Passage in the Senate has fallen just short of the required 67 votes in the Senate three times, most recently in 2006.

Americans from every generation have laid down their lives under the stars and stripes to protect our country and our people. As the stewards of their memory and sacrifice, it is our duty to ensure that generations in the future understand their service was not in vain. The American people have simply given too much for the flag to not have the ability to protect it.

Full text of H.J. Res. 61 can be found here.

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