CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING CONGRESS TO PROHIBIT PHYSICAL DESECRATION OF THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES -- (House of Representatives - June 22, 2005)
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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this resolution.
I am not in support of burning the flag. But I am even more opposed to weakening the First Amendment, one of the most important things for which the flag itself stands.
I think that point was well put by Bill Holen of Littleton, Colorado, who wrote to express agreement with a recent Denver Post editorial against this proposed constitutional amendment. As he put it, ``As a Vietnam veteran and one who fought honorably for this nation ..... Like Colin Powell, while I personally abhor the thought of anyone burning the American flag, the symbol under which I fought for this nation, I believe the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are far more important.''
I do not think there is a real need for this amendment. On that point, I agree with the Rocky Mountain News that ``Flag-burning is not really a problem, as actual incidents of It are rare. It is disproportionately denounced rather than actually done. And defining desecration is tricky, especially given the widespread commercial and decorative use of the flag.'' And, in particular, I share that newspaper's view that ``More importantly, tampering with the First Amendment opens the way to those laws of the kind that less democratic governments impose to shield themselves from criticism.''
Mr. Speaker, every day, at home and abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are on guard to defend our country and our constitution from those who have no respect for either. In my opinion, anyone who thinks that burning the flag under which they serve would be an effective way to influence public opinion is grotesquely mistaken. And I think to say we need to amend the constitution in order to respond to people suffering from that delusion is to give them more importance than they deserve.
For the benefit of our colleagues, I attach the text of the newspaper editorial to which I referred earlier.
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