In 1984, during a protestation against Reagan administrative policies, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag in front of the Dallas City Hall. He was tried in a Texas court and charged for desecration of the flag. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, the case was brought before the Supreme Court.

Is the desecration of an American flag a freedom of speech protected under the First Amendment?

The Supreme Court ruled that the burning of the flag is in fact protected under the Constitution in the First Amendment, and was political in nature. The reason behind this ruling is that just because someone can/will take offense to certain ways of expressing ideas does not justify that our freedom of speech needs to be limited. Also, the Court thought that we cannot set something up as a national symbol used in communication, only to set certain limits on how we can communicate with it; even if society finds it disagreeable or offensive.

I believe that the Court exercised its right of judicial review perfectly, because they looked at the Constitution to provide them with insights and answers to their problem.



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