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Public Statements

Constitutional Amendment Authorizing Congress to Prohibit Physical Desecration of the Flag of the United States

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


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. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.J. Res. 10, the flag protection amendment, and I would like to thank the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham) for his efforts to protect our country's most sacred symbol, the American flag. I would also like to thank our distinguished Judiciary chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), for his leadership in this area.

I would also like to very briefly just address some of the allegations, particularly the one about not having hearings. As has been stated, we have had a number of hearings on this in the past. The interesting thing is when one holds these hearings or had we chosen to hold hearings again this time, I might add we had experts on both sides come and testify about this, there are allegations thrown at us, oh, here we go again, why are we holding these hearings once again? So you are really damned if you do or damned if you do not.

I would also invite those who might be following this debate to listen to where the inflammatory rhetoric, which side it comes from, allegations thrown against us that this is a crass exploitation of the flag when we have not done this, that, or the other thing.

I think those of us on this side tend to want to keep this debate on a very civil level and I would encourage my colleagues to do that. Since this country's creation, nothing has represented the United States of America as honorably as has the American flag. From the top of this very Capitol building to porches all across our country, the flag is synonymous with the principles on which this country was founded and the principles on which we still stand. Each day it serves as a source of comfort and strength and holds the promise of a better future for all Americans.

However, there are those who, while claiming the very protections our country has to offer, would seek to defile it, to desecrate, to burn or otherwise destroy the very symbol that would seemingly protect their actions. Since 1994, and I want to emphasize this, there have been 119 incidents of such flag desecration, ones like the one that our distinguished chairman just indicated where somebody literally defecated on the flag. Despite the will of both the Federal and State governments to protect the flag from such abuse, the Supreme Court has struck down these efforts to protect our most sacred symbol and instead has protected these un-American acts.

Congress must act and a constitutional amendment is the only answer. If we could do this legislatively, if we could pass a statute as we have done in the past which has been struck down by the Supreme Court, we would do that. But the only way that we can protect the flag is to amend the Constitution, and that is what this is all about. Many of us believe very strongly in this. H.J. Res. 10, which has passed the House in its current form on four separate occasions, would give Congress the authority it needs to once again protect the flag. I would urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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