Politics

Clinton, Dems Supported Flag Burning Amendment Too

| by Nik Bonopartis

As the 2016 presidential race made clear, President-elect Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton don't see eye to eye on most things -- but when it comes to flag burning they're of the same mind.

Trump made headlines again with a tweet he sent at 6:55 a.m. on Nov. 29, saying people who burn the U.S. flag should face criminal repercussions.

"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" the exclamation point loving president-elect wrote to his 16.4 million followers on the social media platform.

That tweet was favorited more than 202,000 times by the afternoon, a result Trump might dub "bigly."

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The businessman-turned-politician was roundly mocked for the tweet by media analysts, and constitutional lawyers pointed out that the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue. In separate cases heard by the court in 1989 and 1990, justices said laws that prohibit burning or desecration of the U.S. flag aren't constitutional, because the act is an exercise of free speech.

But Trump didn't invent the idea of criminalizing the destruction of the U.S. flag -- members of congress have proposed flag desecration amendments to the constitution on at least 40 separate occasions since the 1990s, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.

And Trump's defenders were quick to point out that Clinton herself introduced legislation to criminalize flag burning in 2005, and backed another attempt at criminalizing flag desecration the following year, the Washington Examiner reported

Clinton's push for criminal consequences for flag desecrators was made in an official capacity during her stint as a senator representing New York State from 2001 to 2009. A Washington Post story from 2006 says Clinton "strongly endorsed" that year's proposed flag burning amendment.

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Polls have consistently found that Americans are in favor of a flag desecration amendment. Gallup, which polled Americans on the issue four times between 1995 and 2006, found that between 56 and 63 percent of Americans wanted to criminalize flag desecration.

Of Americans who participated in an unscientific, online poll at debate.org, 59 percent said flag burning should be illegal.

Support for a flag-burning amendment among politicians has waxed and waned according to what's politically expedient at the time, with Republicans and Democrats swapping stances over the years. But polls show support -- or opposition -- to a flag desecration amendment among regular Americans isn't rooted in political affiliation or ideology.

During the 2006 debate, the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a Democrat who lost an arm in World War II, told The Washington Post he personally considered flag desecration "obscene, painful and unpatriotic."

"But I believe Americans gave their lives in the many wars," Inouye said, "to make certain that all Americans have a right to express themselves -- even those who harbor hateful thoughts."

Sources: Washington Examiner, The Washington Post, Gallup, National Archives and Records Administration / Photo credit: MSgt Christopher DeWitt via Wikimedia Commons

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