June 14, 2011
On Flag Day we look back to the controversy over flag burning in the U.S. Decisions in 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) and 1990 (U.S. v. Eichman) ruled that flag burning was speech protected by the First Amendment. Joey Johnson, defendant in the first case, commented on his action in burning the flag. In 1989, the Congress tried to reverse this decision by statute and was overturned by the Court. So, in 1990 they debated a constitutional amendment in the House. The closing remarks in the House by Rep. Hyde (R-IL) and Speaker Foley (D-WA) were particularly eloquent and can be found in the Video Library. View the entire remarks of Hyde and Foley. The amendment failed obtain the two-thirds vote needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
The efforts to pass a constitutional amendment did not end in 1990. This chart show subsequent efforts. In 2005, the amendment passed the House, but failed in the Senate by one vote. You can review all of these debates in the C-SPAN Video Library.
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