Clueless John

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.)

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5 comments to Clueless John

  • Tim,

    Expressing a different opinion than the US Supreme Court certainly doesn’t qualify as ignorance nor misleading voters. The Court has been wrong before. That’s an honest difference of opinion.

    On the other hand, Daschle’s use of permanent filibusters to block the Senate from meeting its constitutional obligation to advise and consent on judicial nominees is beyond ignorance of the constitution – it’s a violation of the constitution.


  • Nothing quite like a post from Bob for Apples to demonstrate that not all “opinions” are created equal.

    And, I share Tim’s frustration with Sen. Tim Johnson. Thune may be ignorant of constitutional law. Johnson is not. I suppose we Democrats can rationalize his pandering positions on irrelevant issues because he must to get elected in this island of GOP junk ideas. But, Johnson also has an obligation to educate and inform. He is not doing that by supporting anti-flag desecration amendments.

  • Douglas,

    Thanks, I agree my opinion is right far more often than not and is certainly better informed than any of yours. You’re a gentleman to acknowledge that.

    Pandering positions – that’s rich. Daschle has an ad where he actually shows us the money he’s screwing other state’s taxpayers out of to buy our votes. I’d say he’s the champion panderer in this election.

    It’s so easy to debunk your posts given your delusional notion that either party is morally superior to the other. It renders you incapable of defending a position with anything more than bile, personal attacks, and failed ad hominem reasoning.

    Hey, you finally figured out the gag in my nom de blog! Good for you!


  • Tim

    Re comment 1: While recognizing it is not a direct quote, the statement is not that Thune “believes” flag desecration should not be constitutionally protected. It is a declarative statement contrary to current law and Supreme Court precedent.

  • Tim,

    Go read Thune’s statement again. He equated flag burning to speech exempt from the rights of free expression such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. The whole point of the amendment is that its backers are perfectly well aware of the Supreme Court ruling and its implications. They disagree with the court and so want to change the constitution. That’s why the amendment exists – to change the constitution and bring flag burning into the category of non-protected speech.

    Too bad Daschle doesn’t go that honest route and change the constitutional provision requiring advice and consent of judicial nominees rather than simply violate the law by creating permanent filibusters. Gotta keep those 1.3 million abortions a year legal!