On Flag Day, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Friday announced his cosponsorship of a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the desecration of the United States Flag.
"As West Virginians, we are a patriotic people and hold a deep reverence for our Nation's flag. It is a symbol of unity and nationhood that our State's and Nation's patriots have courageously fought and died to defend for more than two hundred years, and this Constitutional Amendment makes clear that the American people, through their elected lawmakers, have the Constitutional authority to protect their flag from desecration," said Rahall.
Rahall, who has cosponsored similar legislation in previous Congresses, joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in the House and Senate to reverse earlier rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that extended First Amendment protections to flag desecration as a mode of expression.
In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a conviction for flag desecration under a Texas statute was inconsistent with the First Amendment and barred punishment for burning the flag as part of a public demonstration.
Consequently, every Congress that has convened since has considered proposals that would permit punishment of those who engage in flag desecration. In six of the last eight Congresses, the House passed proposed Constitutional amendments which would have authorized Congress to enact legislation to protect the flag from physical desecration.
The American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization, has pledge its support for the legislation.
"This amendment is often misunderstood. It does not protect the U.S. Flag. It merely returns to Congress the power to pass legislation that would protect the flag, a power that was taken away from them by the Supreme Court in 1989. It is time to correct this mistake -- now," said James E. Koutz, national commander of The American Legion
"On Flag Day, we pay tribute to "Old Glory' by flying her proudly, standing before her with hand over heart, and remembering West Virginia's sons and daughters who marched into battle in defense of the freedoms and liberty our Flag represents. We owe are utmost efforts to protect the Flag as a symbol of our Nation's strength and unity and hope for people everywhere," said Rahall.