Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Not This Again 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning, as this Washington Post article reports, meaning that full Senate consideration is coming up in the near future.

I had thought that most of the steam had gone out of the anti-flag-burning movement, but apparently I was wrong:
Proponents are hopeful a new wave of patriotism in response to the war in Iraq will help squeeze out needed votes, but foes say they are guardedly hopeful they can again block it.

In the past 15 years, a flag amendment has repeatedly sailed through the 435-member House only to fall a short in the 100-member Senate, including by four votes in 2000.

"It's desperately close," said Terri Ann Schroeder of the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the proposal. "But I'm fairly confident we're going to prevail. We'll win."

The proposed measure would specifically amend the Constitution to permit Congress to pass a law to protect the flag from desecration.

For a proposed constitutional amendment to become law it must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives and then ratified by 38 of the 50 states.
Who even burns flags anymore? It wouldn't exactly be shocking these days, precisely because it's not a new image. On the other hand, I'd bet big money that adoption of the amendment would cause flag-burning to become a bigger trend than the Rubik's Cube and Furby put together.

While I think that cluttering the constitution with an anti-free-speech amendment like the one being considered would be stupid, embarrassing, and ultimately foolish, I'm less convinced than I once was that such a move would be the first step in the repeal of the Bill of Rights. My guess is that the assault on the first amendment would just kind of sputter once the flag could no longer serve as fuel.

Mostly, though, I'm just depressed that the leaders of the Senate (including, apparently, Diane Feinstein) think that there aren't more pressing issues to deal with.

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