Daines offers constitutional amendment allowing Congress to outlaw flag burning


Montana Sen. Steve Daines has introduced legislation adding a constitutional amendment prohibiting the burning of the U.S. flag. (Daines staff photo)

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has introduced a constitutional amendment giving Congress the authority to prohibit burning the American flag.

“The American flag has been a symbol of hope and freedom for centuries and ought to be respected,” said the Montana Republican, who was joined by seven co-sponsors: John Corny of Texas, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the desecration of the U.S. flag is constitutionally protected free speech and cannot be prohibited by federal or state law.

A constitutional amendment is, therefore, the only way to prohibit such desecration.

If the amendment passes muster with Congress, it would have to be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states within seven years.

Daines’ proposal says simply: “The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

In announcing his action, Daines provided these endorsements:

The American Legion of Montana: “It is long past time that the flag of the United States be protected from desecration, The American Legion of Montana applauds Senator Daines’ effort to protect the flag.”

The Department of Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars: “The U.S. flag should be protected by the U.S. Constitution in the name of all veterans that gave their lives to protect it.”

The American Legion, on behalf of the Citizens Flag Alliance: “American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt was delighted to learn on this historic Flag Day that U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has introduced a bill to give Congress the authority to prohibit desecration of the U.S. flag. The measure follows introduction of a similar bill in the House on Feb. 2 by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark.”