Trump Suggests Revocation of Citizenship, Jail Time for Flag Burners

An American flag burns June 14, 2016, during a flag retirement ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1432 in Salina, Kansas. (Tom Dorsey/Salina Journal via AP)

President-elect Donald Trump’s tweets over the past couple of days have included confidence that he really won the popular vote (Hillary Clinton has 64,469,963 votes, or 48.1 percent, while Trump has 62,379,366 votes, or 46.5 percent; the electoral vote margin was 306-232) …


… and manually retweeting followers who dumped on CNN reporter Jeff Zeleney, who said in a Monday report that Trump’s claim of massive voter fraud was “blatant and baseless” and the actions of a “sore winner.”

This morning, Trump suggested penalties for flag-burning:


Trump spokesman Jason Miller told CNN this morning that flag-burning is not constitutionally protected speech. “Flag burning should be illegal,” Miller said. “The president-elect is a very strong supporter of the First Amendment, but there’s a big difference between that and burning the American flag.”

The Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson (1989) and United States v. Eichman (1990) that flag-burning was free speech protected by the First Amendment. The latter case ruled that a congressional bill to ban torching the Stars and Stripes was unconstitutional.

“In my neck of the woods people don’t burn their flags, they actually honor their flags. I don’t see why someone would want to burn it. But we have a First Amendment right, but where I come from you honor the flag,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told MSNBC today in response to the Trump tweet. “If someone wanted to show their First Amendment right I’d be afraid for their own safety. But we’ll protect our First Amendment.”

“That’s what the Court has upheld. I think the best thing we could have going for us is growing an economy. I don’t see why anybody would want to burn the American flag,” he continued. “It’s the greatest symbol of freedom, a country that was conceived in liberty and dedicated proposition that all men are equal.”


Late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who referred to himself as an “originalist,” defended the right to burn the American flag.

“If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag — however, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged — and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government,” Scalia told CNN in 2012.

“I mean, that was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress,” he added. “Burning the flag is a form of expression — speech doesn’t just mean written words or oral words — burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea. ‘I hate the government, the government is unjust,’ or whatever.”


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