John Thune’s comments on the flag amendment show once again that he is either clueless or has no qualms about misleading voters.
Argus Leader, Sept. 23, 2004: Thune said a flag amendment would not encroach on rights of free expression.
United States Supreme Court, June 21, 1998: A conviction for burning a flag violates the First Amendment.
Of course, why would Thune let the facts stand in the way of a political hot button?
I know it’s asking too much, but John might actually learn something about American principles if he read the majority opinion in the case. Some excerpts:
If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.
We have not recognized an exception to this principle even where our flag has been involved
* * *
There is, moreover, no indication — either in the text of the Constitution or in our cases interpreting it — that a separate juridical category exists for the American flag alone. Indeed, we would not be surprised to learn that the persons who framed our Constitution and wrote the Amendment that we now construe were not known for their reverence for the Union Jack. The First Amendment does not guarantee that other concepts virtually sacred to our Nation as a whole — such as the principle that discrimination on the basis of race is odious and destructive — will go unquestioned in the market-place of ideas. We decline, therefore, to create for the flag an exception to the joust of principles protected by the First Amendment.
* * *
The way to preserve the flag’s special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong. …. And, precisely because it is our flag that is involved, one’s response to the flag burner may exploit the uniquely persuasive power of the flag itself. We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one’s own, no better way to counter a flag burner’s message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by — as one witness here did — according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.
(And just to show my view is not one based on the party someone is in, I think Tim Johnson is wrong to co-sponsor the Senate version of the amendment.)