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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Japan Today - News - U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning - Japan's Leading International News Network Thursday, June 23, 2005

U.S. House passes resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning

Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 07:51 JST
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved, by a vote of 286 to 130, a measure which aims to outlaw desecration of the American flag.

Supporters said the law was meant in particular to discourage demonstrators who might burn or otherwise damage the flag in the course of a protest.

"Freedom of political speech does not include the destruction of a physical object — especially one that thousands of soldiers have sworn and fought to protect," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

"The flag protection resolution does not restrict the constitutional rights of any one person. It restores legal respect to the flag by allowing states to make their own laws concerning the defense of our nation's most precious symbol of freedom," the Republican leader said.

The top House Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, spoke on the House floor against the measure.

"I oppose the flag desecration constitutional amendment," she said. "To truly honor our flag, we should honor what the flag ultimately symbolizes - our commitment to freedom and democracy, including free speech, even speech that we find distasteful."

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the burning of an American flag was an example of protected political speech under the Constitution, a decision which the House bill meant to undo.

The resolution does not directly prohibit desecration of the U.S. flag, but it empowers individual states to legislate against the burning and desecration of the American flag.

The flag protection amendment requires the vote of a two-third majority of each chamber of Congress and would only become effective upon ratification by the legislatures of three quarters of the states.

The House has passed a similar measure in each of the past five years, but the measure has yet to clear the Senate. (Wire reports)

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