Tennessee State Rep Ask US Congress To Ignore Supreme Court Precedent And Outlaw Flag Burning

from the 'attached-please-find-all-the-reasons-this-won't-work' dept

Perhaps Tennessee State Representative Jay Reedy read the electoral room wrong on November 5 and thought his boy would remain president for another four years. Maybe he was just drunk on the success of securing his state rep position in the general election after a strenuous unopposed campaign. Whatever the case, Rep. Reedy is apparently hoping Congressional reps will return to Capitol Hill refreshed and ready to violate the Constitution.

The first shot of Rep. Reedy’s new term is this: a resolution urging Congress to make flag burning illegal. This is something Trump threatened to do a handful of times during campaign rallies. This is also something pretty much no one seriously thinks would have a chance of standing up to Constitutional scrutiny. Nevertheless, this resolution exists. And the best part of the resolution is it explains exactly how it will fail even as it calls for Congress to make it happen. (h/t Peter Bonilla)

WHEREAS, a 1931 case set the first precedent for the use of a flag in an act of symbolic speech under the First Amendment, when the Court struck down a California law that banned the flying of a red flag to protest against the government; and

WHEREAS, in 1968, Congress approved the Federal Flag Desecration Law after a Vietnam War protest. The law made it illegal to “knowingly” cast “contempt” upon “any flag of the United States by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling upon it.”; and

WHEREAS, the Court moved toward its 1989 decision about flag burning in 1974, when it said in Spence v. Washington that a person couldn’t be convicted for using tape to put a peace sign on an American flag. A majority of the Court saw the act as protected expression under the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, during the next decade, states narrowed the focus on their flag desecration laws, but they still prohibited flag burning and other acts of mutilation. The issue was then decided, at least in the Supreme Court, in the decision of Texas v. Johnson…

We’ll stop there for the moment because there’s already so much to work with. This breaks down the history of flag desecration laws being struck down as unconstitutional. Somehow, this is Reedy’s pitch for a federal flag desecration law. And it takes someone really special to claim that an issue may still be unsettled (“decided, at least in the Supreme Court”), when it has been already been addressed by the US Supreme Court.

Twice.

WHEREAS, in reaction to the Johnson decision, which only applied to the state of Texas, Congress passed an anti-flag burning law called the Flag Protection Act of 1989. However in 1990, the Supreme Court struck down that law as unconstitutional.

All of that notwithstanding (somehow), Reedy believes Congress can exercise its federal superpowers to craft a law that bans flag burning while still remaining aligned with the First Amendment.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we strongly urge the United States Congress to enact legislation to prohibit the desecration of the United States flag.

Chances are this resolution will never make its way to Congress, no matter how much the Tennessee state legislature leans right. And this is just more jingoistic patriotism masquerading as public service from a state rep who has introduced a bunch of other dead-in-the-legislative-water timewasters over the past few years, including:

Constitutionality is not Rep. Reed’s strong suit. I guess the rights given to state residents (and Americans located elsewhere) by the Almighty God should be subject to Reed’s personal beliefs about where those rights begin and end.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Tennessee State Rep Ask US Congress To Ignore Supreme Court Precedent And Outlaw Flag Burning”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
33 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Just one of those bills would have sent the message you know...

From attempting to compel/mandate unconstitutional speech to banning constitutional speech it’s nice of them to make it undeniably clear how much of a raging hypocrite they are and how much they absolutely loathe the constitution and that pesky ‘bill of rights’.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is a continuing theme, a complete lack of self awareness and is indicative of those who want to rule rather than govern. Do as I say, not as I do – is not something that successful leaders say.
Saw it in the protests against police brutality that were met with police brutality.
See it in the protests in France against the new law against documenting police brutality being met with police brutality.
Hypocrisy and self awareness seem to not be compatible.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

I guess the rights given to state residents (and Americans located elsewhere) by the Almighty God should be subject to Reed’s personal beliefs about where those rights begin and end.

Reed would likely claim that his desires happen to correlate with the will of God, possibly because God Herself told him as much. It would make him the latest conservative Christian to essentially blame God for their actions, sure, but I doubt he cares about that.

Related: No one’s personal beliefs deserve to become the law of the land.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
David says:

Re: Re:

Reed would likely claim that his desires happen to correlate with the will of God, possibly because God Herself told him as much.

No upright fundamental Christian would admit to letting himself get bossed around by a Jew.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This isn’t one of those issues where you see a partisan split on the Supreme Court, though. The Roberts Court has pretty consistently ruled in favor of free speech, and the rulings aren’t usually close (generally the ones I can think of that were 5-4 with the conservatives on one side and the liberals on the other concerned corporate speech). Trump’s appointments certainly move the court hard to the right, and we’re going to be seeing some terrible repercussions as a result. But I don’t think "flag burning is illegal now" is going to be one of them.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I write this as a Tennessee transplant who has been observing the local "thought" processes with open-mouthed wonder and horror."

There’s a reason Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft became icons of horror fiction – their most scary works all include vivid depictions of the insides of the heads of american clannish bigots. It’s become pretty clear by now that you could take Hitler’s old speeches, translate them to english, obfuscate the origin of them, and 73 million americans would stand up in raging approval, cheering for the strongman who’s going to give it gud to the liberals, lefties, and the others.

What bugs me the most is that the rest of the US has apparently been unaware of how bad this really is. It’s never really sunk in that All Is Not Well in the land of prosperity and liberty.

It’s as if some 70% of the US citizenry has all grown up with blinders attached and the vague idea that there are "bad folks" out there while writing off every indication that a lot of the people they deal with on a daily basis are those "bad folks".

Now that those folks have taken to finally wearing their tribal symbols, in the form of red hats and proud boys T-shirts it might, well damn overdue, prod the confused herd of startled sheep into the realization that it’s time to stop trying to reach across the aisle to people who’ve made it abundantly clear they aren’t interested…and run the guys unwilling to do their part of the social contract out on god damn rails.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"There’s a reason Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft became icons of horror fiction – their most scary works all include vivid depictions of the insides of the heads of american clannish bigots"

Unfortunately, the difference being that while King usually mocks and lampoons the crazies, Lovecraft was one of them. He created some astounding fiction but the underlying tones are unavoidable. At least with Poe, it’s literal mental illness behind so much of his work, so while it’s not good to demonise the mentally ill, at least you’re not dealing with thinly veiled racial and eugenics concepts.

"Now that those folks have taken to finally wearing their tribal symbols, in the form of red hats and proud boys T-shirts"

This might be the silver lining of Trump. These people used to camouflage themselves and walk among normal folk. Now that they’re unambiguously saying "we’re Nazis", the job of dealing with them should be a little easier. The trick is, as with the whole Brexit mess, working out how to deal with them without destroying the fundamentals of what you thought you were sharing a generation ago.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

An amendment to the state Constitution declaring the listed rights came from "Almighty God."

An interesting position to take since this would suggest that the will & power of the people are superior to "Almighty God".

After all, the first 3 words of the US constitution are "We the people"

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Misplaced priorities

Bear in mind that there’s a non-zero number of these people who simultaneously fetishise the US flag and the confederate battle flag that symbolises an army that fought against them, without a shred of irony.

The principles are clearly not the important thing to them…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Misplaced priorities

Bear in mind that there’s a non-zero number of these people who simultaneously fetishise the US flag and the confederate battle flag that symbolises an army that fought against them, without a shred of irony.

If I may quote one of my friends, it’s because "the only think they like about the American flag is the racism!"

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nah, if he really wants to show his ‘patriotism’ and doesn’t mind trampling all over the constitution he should throw out a bill to make it illegal to fly the confederate flag, because I’m pretty sure flying the flag of a group that actively fought against the government in an attempt to preserve the practice of slavery in the US shows a hell of a lot more contempt towards the country than burning the US flag.

bob says:

its just a piece of plastic/cloth.

I understand that a flag is an important symbol to people but when one is destroyed it means nothing, it’s just a piece of cloth. They are mass produced in the country and by other countries do its not like you lose the only copy if one is burned/disrespected.

Now the values behind what that symbol represent (e.x. freedom and constitutional rights), that I can get behind.

I believe that symbols can be good reminders of important things but taking away or destroying the symbol doesn’t degrade what the symbol represents.

It’s almost like they worship the object instead of what the object represents. Hmmm, reminds me of one of their commandments in the bible.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: its just a piece of plastic/cloth.

I’d argue that far from denigrating what the flag stands for burning it is in fact upholding an american value from the very founding of the country, namely having the right to metaphorically spit in the face of authority and make a public statement that you don’t agree with what those in authority are doing, and conversely that attempts to ban flag burning are the ‘unamerican’ actions as they attempt to stifle free speech just because it might ‘harm’ or ‘challenge’ the image of authority.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
09:32 Why Moderating Content Actually Does More To Support The Principles Of Free Speech (76)
09:30 Trumpists Admit That Their Own Social Media Platforms Aren't Much Fun When They Can't Use Them To Own The Libs (79)
15:36 On Elon Musk And Free Speech (164)
12:12 The 'Culture Of Free Speech' Includes Criticism Of Others' Speech; Get Over It (284)
13:30 Cops Who Sued Journalist For Reporting On Their Poor Handling Of A Rape Case Lose Their Defamation Lawsuit (40)
10:48 Jehovah's Witnesses Abusing Copyright Subpoena Process To Unmask Critics (16)
15:35 Devin Nunes Loses Appeal Of SLAPP Suit Against Liz Mair (16)
13:33 First Amendment Group Tells Appeals Court University Officials Shouldn't Have Access To Qualified Immunity (15)
09:32 Appeals Court Smacks Down Unconstitutional Injunction Obtained By A Lawyer To Silence Someone Who Left A Negative Review (13)
10:45 Senator Klobuchar's Next Unconstitutional Speech Control Bill: The NUDGE Act (37)
09:30 EARN ITs Big Knowledge 1st Amendment Problem (40)
13:31 Court (For Now) Says NY Times Can Publish Project Veritas Documents (43)
10:49 Terrible Vermont Harassment Law Being Challenged After Cops Use It To Punish A Black Lives Matter Supporter Over Her Facebook Posts (14)
10:43 UK Government Refreshes Its Terrible 'Online Safety Bill,' Adds Even More Content For Platforms To Police (43)
09:37 Court Grants Qualified Immunity To Officer Who Told Couple To Take Down Facebook Post About Off-Duty Cop Who Shot Their Dog (18)
10:50 Tenth Circuit Tells College Administrator That Ordering A Student To Stop Talking About An Instructor Clearly Violates The First Amendment (27)
06:07 Small Alabama Town's Overzealous Traffic Cops Also Monitored Internet Traffic To Threaten Critics Of The Corrupt PD (43)
10:53 Explainer: The Whole Spotify / Joe Rogan Thing Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With Section 230 (56)
10:56 Governor Inslee Wants To Jail Politicians Who Lie? What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (39)
10:41 Georgia Sees Florida & Texas Social Media Laws Go Down In 1st Amendment Flames And Decides... 'Hey, We Should Do That Too' (65)
13:40 Harrison Greenbaum Latest Trick: Having Paul Levy Respond To Criss Angel's Thuggish Legal Threat (10)
12:12 Small Nebraska Town Pays $16,000 To Resident It Attempted To Sue Into Silence (19)
11:18 Pennsylvania Court Reverses Student's Expulsion Over A Snapchat Post, Reminds School Students Still Have Rights (27)
09:35 Sculptor Of Pillar Of Shame Announces It's Now Public Domain So That Anyone Can Make A Copy, As Chinese Authorities Seek To Destroy It (14)
09:23 Klobuchar's Silly Letter To Facebook Raises 1st Amendment Issues And Only Gives Ammo To Misinfo Peddlers That Facebook Is A State Actor (27)
10:40 Confused Judge Grants Project Veritas' Prior Restraint Against The NY Times (67)
09:31 Robert Reich Loses The Plot: Gets Basically Everything Wrong About Section 230, Fairness Doctrine & The 1st Amendment (95)
11:58 No, The Arguments Against Florida's & Texas' Content Moderation Bills Would Not Block All Internet Regulations (27)
09:33 Canada Strikes Again: Allows Lawsuit Against Twitter To Proceed Over Speech Of Twitter Users (43)
09:20 Rep. Thomas Massie Seems To Have Skipped Over The 1st Amendment In His Rush To 'Defend' The 2nd (95)
More arrow