Trump is going to be very tough president! Look what he did today! President-elect tweeted early Tuesday that burning the U.S. flag should have “consequences,” suggesting loss of citizenship or a year in jail as punishment.
WOW! This never happened before in America!
Trump’s tweet runs up against two Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the right to desecrate the flag: one in 1989 and another the following year.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
But Trump is going to appoint new judges in the Supreme Court so this is going to change!
Trump’s transition spokesman, Jason Miller, was asked about the rulings on CNN Tuesday but did not respond to questions about the constitutional protections of flag burning. “Flag burning should be illegal,” Miller said repeatedly.
While the Supreme Court has upheld flag burning as a right, another challenge could turn out differently depending on Trump’s choice of justices. The high court is currently operating one member short of its full nine, following the death of Antonin Scalia in February. Trump is expected to pick a replacement for Scalia, and perhaps for other justices, during his presidency.
Flag desecration laws vary by country: it is illegal in China and North Korea, and also in democracies including Italy and Germany. Punishments include fines and jail time.
Congress debated the issue in 2006. Here’s what Mitch McConnell, now the Senate majority leader, said at the time:
Fun fact: Statement from Mitch McConnell during 2006 flag desecration amendment debate: pic.twitter.com/ceVk0tvnWC
— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) November 29, 2016
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the 1989 case Texas v. Johnson that flag burning was a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. In 1990, the court affirmed the right to burn the flag in the United States v. Eichman case. That ruling was also 5-4.
It was unclear what if anything had precipitated the Trump tweet.
Trump will change things in America. Nobody should burn American flag, that has to stop!