A group of far left activists set the American flag ablaze outside the Trump Tower after President-Elect’s tweet saying flag-burners should lose citizenship or even face jail.
‘Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!’ Donald Trump said Tuesday morning on Twitter.
The tweet provoked a furious response on social media, while the far left NYC Revolution Club took it one step further and began burning several United States flags outside Trump’s home, in Trump Tower, New York.
Trump’s comments suggest that he supports recent efforts to override a series of Supreme Court decisions with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to make flag-burning illegal.
Hillary Clinton once co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate that would have done much the same thing, making it a crime to burn the U.S. flag in order to ‘incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace.’
The law, which languished in Congress, would have provided for a 1-year jail term and a $100,000 fine as penalties.
America’s highest court ruled in 1969 that denigrating the U.S. flag with words is protected by the First Amendment, and in 1989 – by a slim 5-4 majority – that desecrating it is also a form of free speech.
But the Clinton-sponsored bill argued that ‘destruction of the flag of the United States can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment.’
A long-stalled movement among congressional Republicans to trump the Supreme Court could gather new steam with Trump’s support.
The ‘Flag Desecration Amendment’ has passed several times in the House of Representatives, but has stalled in the Senate, most recently failing to pass in 2006 by a single vote.
Both chambers in the U.S. Capitol are required to pass Constitutional amendments by two-thirds majorities.
The proposed amendment reads simply: ‘The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.’
Republicans will have new hope of amending the Constitution in 2017 – something that is typically seen as a pipe dream – since a larger majority of state legislatures are now controlled by Republicans.
Constitutional amendments can only be adopted with the support of three-quarters of those lawmaking bodies.
The GOP has outright majorities in 37 state capitols. If a flag-burning amendment were to pass in both houses of Congress and the 2018 elections produced just one more Republican-controlled state legislature, it could become the 34th Amendment.
Republicans could also try to pass amendments requiring the federal government to balance its budget every year, and establishing term limits for members of Congress.
Less than an hour after Trump posted his tweet about flag-burning, presidential transition spokesman Jason Miller defended his position on CNN.
He said Trump is a strong First Amendment advocate, but burning Old Glory goes too far.
‘Flag burning is completely ridiculous … and I think the vast majority of Americans would agree,’ he said.
‘It’s completely ridiculous, and I don’t think there’s a big universe of people out there who support flag-burning. It’s terrible and it’s despicable.’
Miller did his best to change the subject to the president-elect’s appointment of Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
But CNN kept the pressure on.
‘We’ve got to listen when he says something should be illegal that’s a protected constitutional right. I’m not saying I like it, but that’s a big part of the First Amendment in this country,’ he said.
‘A frustrating, maddening part of it is that you’ve got to respect people’s ability to say what you don’t like to hear. The president just said burning the flag is illegal. It’s a protected constitutional right. Can we agree on that?’
‘No, we would completely disagree on this issue,’ Miller replied.
‘The president-elect is a very strong supporter of the First Amendment,’ he added later, ‘but I also think there’s a very big difference between that and burning the American flag, which has absolutely no place in our society.’
A co-host of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ put House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the spot an hour later. McCarthy said that in Trump’s America, people who burn the U.S. flag could be in danger themselves – but they still have the legal right to do it.
‘In my neck of the woods, people don’t burn their flags. They actually honor their flags. I don’t see why they would want to burn it,’ McCarthy said.
‘But we have a First Amendment right. … If someone wanted to show their First Amendment right, I’d be afraid for their own safety.’
‘But we’ll protect our First Amendment. … That’s what the court upheld,’ he said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that ‘this is not the first thing that he president-elect has said or tweeteed that President Obama disagrees with.’
‘So I will let the president-elect and his team discuss the words that populate his Twitter feed. They can explain or defend those positions or those views.’