Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Next 10 Amendments: Flag burning and protected free speech

July 16, 2013 by NCC Staff


Is burning or desecrating the American flag a right protected by the First Amendment? Or should a new constitutional amendment outlaw both acts?


10 amendments logoThe issue of desecrating the flag goes back in the courts almost 100 years. Finally in  1989, the Supreme Court decided in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning as a protest constituted free speech that was protected by the Constitution.


A proposed constitutional amendment fell short in 1990, but the issue is still being debated today.


As part of our Next 10 Amendments project, we’ve asked Constitution Daily readers to give us their opinions on possible new amendments, including one that clarifies free speech and the American flag.


You can see other topics below, and people have made a lot of good points, in a civil way.


Links to Debates: Right To Bear Arms | Balanced Budget | Right To Privacy | Term Limits | Same-Sex Marriage | Church and State


What do you think: Should there be a new amendment to protect or outlaw flag burning?


Here’s how you can participate in our project:


1. Check out the resources in the sidebar at right to learn more about the historical context and current events related to this issue.

2. In the comments below, share your thoughts and explore what others are saying. (Please keep your comments respectful and on topic.)

3. Check back each week for the latest discussion topic.

4. In early September, cast your vote in a referendum on potential amendments, gathered from participant comments.


Our discussion is moderated by Chris Phillips, research fellow of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the nonprofit organization Democracy Café.


(Note to readers on Yahoo! News: If you want to take part in the debate, use this link and comment at the end of the story:


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