Chronology of events

February 2, 2017

Rep. Steve Womack (R) of District 3, Arkansas, introduced House Join Resolution (H.J. Res.) 61 into the 115th Congress, along with 13 original co-sponsors, which aims at restoring Congress' constitutional authority over prohibiting desecration of our national colors. Womack is a veteran, who believes specific protections of the flag should not simply be law. They should be enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution was last amended in 1992 with the ratification of the 27th Amendment, which limited laws regarding the raising or lowering of Congressional salaries.  Some opponents of a flag amendment would lead others to believe that the amendment, standing alone, will ban flag desecration – it will not – it is an enabling amendment. It would merely return to Congress the power to pass legislation that would protect the flag. It would only allow Congress to write a law that, like any law, would be subject to debate, required to be voted on by both houses of Congress, and subject to veto by the President

November 29, 2016

President-elect Donald. J. Trump expressed his position that there should be some penalty for U.S. flag desecration by stating in a tweet, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

July 27, 2016

The Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc., continued the tenure of Richard Parker, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, through its reaffirmation of Parker as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CFA.

July 30, 2015

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 21, companion bill to Rep. Steve Womack’s. The bills state simply, “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

January 9, 2015

Rep. Steve Womack(R) of District 3, Arkansas introduced a joint-resolution to the U.S. Congress which aims at restoring Congress' constitutional authority over descration of our national colors. Womack is a veteran, who believes specific protections of the flag should not simply be law. They should be enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution was last amended in 1992 with the ratification of the 27th Amendment, which limited laws regarding the raising or lowering of Congressional salaries. 

June 13, 2013

For the ninth time in his career, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposed a flag-protection amendment in the Senate on June 13. Hatch introduced Senate Joint Resolution 17, proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give Congress the authority to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration.

May 25, 2013

An amendment giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States., H.J. Res 47, was reintroduced in the House of Representatives this week by Reps. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill. The resolutions reads simple, “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

January 23, 2013

On Jan. 23, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., introduced House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 19, a bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

June 14, 2011

June 14, 2011 - Senators Max Baucus (MT) and Orrin Hatch (UT) introduced Senate Joint Resolution (S.J. Res.) 19, a Constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to protect the American Flag from acts of physical desecration.

January 7, 2011

On January 7, 2011, Representative Jo Ann Emerson (MO) reintroduced legislation for the 112th Congress proposing a constitutional amendment which would restore to Congress the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag.  House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 13, simply reads: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

December 1, 2010

With the 111th Congress nearing its end, hopes for amendment action are bleak, marking only the second Congress in more than 16 years in which there was no floor vote on a flag protection amendment.  There is no expectation for action on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns.  Anticipating return of the amendment in the next Congress, efforts get underway to assess flag amendment support among members of both the House and the Senate in the 112th Congress.

October 1, 2009

With only 72 cosponsors for H.J. Res. 47 and only 26 cosponsors for S.J. Res. 15, the road to enactment in the 111th Congress looks to be a long one.  The House resolution is in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Senate resolution is in the Committee on the Judiciary.  A simple majority of cosponsors in both chambers is lacking and expectations for hearings are low.

June 1, 2009

Reaffirmed as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc., Richard Parker, Williams Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, continues his work of many years with The American Legion and the Citizens Flag Alliance in support of a proposed constitutional amendment to protect the flag.

May 6, 2009

Senate Joint Resolutions 15 is introduced by Senator David Vitter [R-LA].  The legislative strategy to be employed includes letters of support and appreciation to all cosponsors from The Citizens Flag Alliance Board Chairman Richard Parker.

April 30, 2009

Representatives Jo Ann Emerson [R-MO] and Jim Marshall [D-GA] introduce House Joint Resolution 47, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

March 1, 2009

To determine the latest measure of support, Legionnaires attending the Annual Washington Conference of The American Legion raise discussion with members of Congress in their Capitol Hill offices. Discussions with both Sen. Vitter and Rep. Emerson lead to expectations for the introduction, by each, of a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag in their respective chambers. Reports from Legionnaires and surveys completed previously by the CFA show that among the 435 members of the House, more than 225 are amendment supporters.

January 6, 2009

Senator David Vitter [R-LA] introduces Senate Joint Resolution 2, “proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress and the States to prohibit the act of desecration of the flag of the United States and to set criminal penalties for that act.” The following day Rep. Jo Ann Emerson [R-MO], introduces House Joint Resolution 8, a companion measure. The language of these resolutions is problematic, since they give power to the Congress “and the States” to prohibit flag desecration and place “criminal penalties” on the act. Both issues concern the CFA.

January 1, 2009

With significant changes in leadership on Capitol Hill, opportunity for hearings and other flag amendment action, early on, appears slight as the 111th Congress convenes. The first hurdle is to get a proposed amendment introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States.

December 1, 2008

The close of the 110th Congress marks the first in six consecutive congresses that a proposed flag amendment did not get to the floor of either chamber for a vote. Consequently, there is little opportunity for activation of grassroots efforts so critical to securing a flag amendment.

September 1, 2008

With congressional action lacking on a flag amendment during the Second Session of the 110th Congress the media is virtually silent, leaving scant opportunity for CFA to draw public attention to the amendment. Focus now turns to the 2008 Elections where early results indicate fair support for a flag amendment among members of the House, but far less support in the Senate.

December 1, 2007

At the close of the First Session of the 110th Congress, little has been seen or heard of H. J. Res. 12, beyond its introduction at the start of the session. The CFA is unable to secure a Senate champion who is willing to make introduction there. Former supporters suggest, since the Congress is predominantly Democrat, that the chief Senate cosponsor ought to be a Democrat. None come forward; none can be persuaded to make the introduction.

January 11, 2007

House Joint Resolution 12, the flag amendment, is introduced in the 110th Congress by US Rep. John Murtha [D-PA]. Discussions get underway with Senators to effect similar actions on their side of the Hill, but at year’s end a Senate amendment is non-existent.

November 7, 2006

The mid-term elections result in a change of leadership in both Houses of Congress. With those changes come changes in Committee structure and leadership. Those who strongly advocated for the amendment move out of their positions of authority while those who have advocated its defeat move in.

June 26, 2006

Later in the day the floor debate begins. S.J. Res. 12 is put to a vote, but is lost by one. In a 66-34 finish, the decision to protect the flag is again kept from the people by a handful of United States Senators.

June 26, 2006

Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Bill Frist hosts a press conference on Capitol Hill and is joined by supporters to include chief sponsors of the measure, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein. Media attention peaks when Major League Baseball great Rick Monday and former Miss America Heather French Henry call for full Senate support of the flag amendment.

June 25, 2006

Supporters return to “Walk the Hill” again to nail down the single vote that is needed.

June 13, 2006

With the vote approaching, a CFA-sponsored “Walk the Hill” event enjoys participation from more than one hundred amendment supporters.

May 1, 2006

Media attention mounts as press conferences are conducted at Hartford, Connecticut; Dover, Delaware; Springfield, Illinois; Frankfort, Kentucky; Albany, New York; Bismarck, North Dakota; Warwick, Rhode Island; Salt Lake City, Utah; Olympia, Washington; and Charleston, West Virginia to announce polling results in those states. With that, the flag amendment becomes “front page” news.

April 1, 2006

The CFA launches “Countdown to Victory.” A plan is developed and executed to secure the one vote needed to pass the flag amendment. Polling is done in several key states; press conferences are set to announce the results of the polls. Letter writing, emailing, and personal visit campaigns are set in motion. All efforts are focused on the June 26 date.

March 1, 2006

Representatives of the Citizens Flag Alliance descend on Capitol Hill in early March to go face-to-face with a number of Senators on the flag amendment. Visits with Majority Leader Bill Frist result in the “promise” of a date to bring the flag amendment to the floor for a vote: the week of June 26, 2006.

February 1, 2006

With support for the amendment at a record high, a letter writing campaign is launched, focusing on all members of the Judiciary asking that they bring SJR 12 to a hearing before April 1, 2006.

January 1, 2006

The Second Session of the 109th Congress brings excitement with the departure of amendment opponent Sen. Jon Corzine, who wins an election bid for Governor of the State of New Jersey. The appointment to fill his un-expired term goes to long-time flag amendment proponent Robert Menendez, formerly the U.S. Representative from New Jersey’s 13th District. This puts support for the flag amendment at 66 – just one vote away from the required 67 votes.

November 1, 2005

Promises are made and tentative schedules are set for hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 12 by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights. In last minute “bargaining” schedules are scuttled after opponents suggest a later time for hearings would better suit the Senate’s calendar. The First Session of the 109th Congress adjourns with the Senate having taken no action on the flag amendment.

September 1, 2005

Nominations and hearings associated with the selection of new Supreme Court Justices pushes aside Senate action on the flag amendment. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita further burden the Senate schedule as relief legislation gets priority attention and many measures – to include the flag amendment – are placed on a back burner.

August 1, 2005

Reacting to media reports that play fast and loose with the facts, and commentary detrimental to the flag amendment in the state of Utah, the CFA commissions yet another survey to determine the precise level of support among residents there. Results of the 500-respondent poll refute the media hype, revealing that 8 of 10 Utah residents believe that flag desecration should be against the law. Seventy percent of all respondents “favor” the amendment. The CFA calls a press conference in Salt Lake City in early August to announce the polling results.

July 1, 2005

In concert with the Hill presence, the CFA places pro-amendment ads in The National Journal, a prestigious Capitol Hill magazine. Ads run in four consecutive issues through the month of July. Subjects include results of the national survey; a discourse by Harvard Law School Professor Richard Parker on why a “statute approach” [simple law] to flag protection will not work; a public declaration of support by Medal of Honor recipients is stated; and a second piece that exposes the mind-set of Senators who discredit the amendment while touting the merits of a simple statute.

July 1, 2005

In further support of possible Senate action on the amendment, the CFA organizes a “Walk the Hill” event and invites CFA partners to participate. Twenty-five representatives of various member organizations spend three days on Capitol Hill meeting face-to-face with Senators and their staff. Opposition is addressed, support is gathered, and commitments are nailed down.

June 1, 2005

Anticipating Senate action soon, a major letter writing campaign is launched within the ranks of the CFA and aimed at every member of the United States Senate.

June 1, 2005

The Citizens Flag Alliance commissions a nationwide poll to determine, once again, the public’s desire for flag protection. Results are not surprising. The survey of more than 1,000 adult respondents shows 80 percent believe flag desecration should be “against the law”; 75 percent of all respondents “favor” the flag amendment. These figures reflect extremely consistent support among the American people, support that has not waned over sixteen years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Texas v. Johnson.

June 1, 2005

House Joint Resolution 10 goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives where attempts to scuttle it fail. On June 22nd the proposed amendment passes 286-130, marking the sixth consecutive time that a flag amendment has passed in the House.

April 1, 2005

Senators Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] introduce Senate Joint Resolution 12 on April 14th. Fifty Senate cosponsors join them in support and by July the number of Senators on record in support of the amendment is at 58, nine away from the 67 needed to pass the amendment.

January 1, 2005

The 108th Congress adjourns, sine die. The flag amendment never gets to the Senate floor. On Tuesday, January 25, 2005, Representatives Duke Cunningham [R-CA] and John Murtha [D-PA], with 46 cosponsors introduce House Joint Resolution [H.J. Res.] 10, a proposed constitutional amendment that reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Similar action is pending in the Senate, where backing for the amendment is greater than ever with 65 supporters of record.

November 1, 2004

MG Brady makes a strong appeal to Senate Republican and Democrat leaders to take action on the amendment. The American Legion purchases ad space in prominent Washington publications – and in no uncertain terms chastises both supporters and opponents in the Senate for allowing the “will of the people” to languish in the closing days of the 108th Congress.

August 1, 2004

Pressure by flag amendment advocates forces action and SJR 4 is favorably released by the Judiciary, headed to the Senate floor with a 5-4 vote. The Senate leadership promises a vote in September, but reneges on the promise, while offering up the idea of a pre-election vote. But, again, the promise is broken when the elections pass without amendment action.

May 1, 2004

Two months after Senate hearings, no Judiciary mark-up is done. Independence Day passes and the situation remains unchanged.

March 1, 2004

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) calls hearings on SJR 4, the Senate version of the flag amendment. Individuals from several CFA member organizations fill the hearing room as the Judiciary hears testimony from CFA’s MG Patrick Brady and consultant Professor Richard Parker, who are joined by professional racecar driver John Andretti. Andretti draws great media attention and broadens support among “NASCAR Dads” and others who learn of the amendment. Senate leadership promises a vote between Memorial Day and July, but delays dog the procedure.

June 1, 2003

The House Judiciary takes up HJR 4 in closed sessions, skipping formal hearings and going right to a mark-up. The proposed amendment is sent to the floor by an 18-13 vote of the Judiciary. On June 3, 2003, the measure is brought to the floor of the House. With the highest vote count in four years, the United States House of Representatives passes House Joint Resolution 4 – the flag protection constitutional amendment – for the fifth consecutive time since the CFA’s campaign began with the 104th Congress. Going to the floor for a vote, the proposed amendment carries 213 official cosponsors.

January 1, 2003

On the opening day of the 108th Congress, flag amendment chief co-sponsors John Murtha (D-PA) and Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) introduced House Joint Resolution 4. Twenty-four colleagues joined them as cosponsors. The following week, on Jan. 15, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced an identical measure in the Senate. In addition to the two chief cosponsors, Senate Joint Resolution 4 enjoys co-sponsorship from 41 other Senators.

December 1, 2002

Results of the November mid-term elections reveals that more than 300 Representatives and 64 Senators will take seats in the 108th Congress.

March 13, 2002

Results of polling, done to determine support for the amendment and released at a Washington, DC press conference, reveal a “new” group of strong supporters of the flag amendment. With 80 percent favoring the amendment, 18-24-year-olds are the second most supportive – and “new” – age group. Only those respondents 65 and older are more pro flag at 85 percent.

January 10, 2002

The Vermont State legislature passes a Memorial Resolution that calls on Congress to pass a flag protection constitutional amendment. The call for the amendment is now unanimous among the states.

January 1, 2002

A change in Senate leadership gives amendment opponents control over the destiny of the measure. It is held hostage through the Second Session of the 107th and never allowed on the floor.

July 17, 2001

The flag protection amendment, House Joint Resolution 36, passes the House, 298-125, for the fourth time in consecutive Congresses.

March 13, 2001

Reps. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) and John Murtha (D-PA) introduce HJ Res. 36. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Cleland (D-GA) introduce SJ Res. 7.

March 29, 2000

Senate Joint Resolution 14, the flag-protection constitutional amendment, falls four short of the necessary 67 votes (63-37) in the United States Senate. The Citizens Flag Alliance notes deep disappointment in two Senators [Robert Byrd (D-WV); and Richard Bryan (D-NV)] whose support was withdrawn at the last minute.

June 24, 1999

The U.S. House of Representatives passes HJ Res. 33, 305-124, 15 votes more than needed for passage of a constitutional amendment.

March 24, 1999

House Judiciary Subcommittee holds hearings on H.J. Res. 33. Witnesses testifying in favor of the amendment include Stephen Presser, Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law; Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (USA-Ret.), Medal of Honor recipient and Chairman of the Board of The Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc.; Stephan Ross, a holocaust survivor who was liberated from Dachau by the U.S. Army; and Bishop Carlton Pearson, the presiding Bishop for more than 500 churches and ministries throughout the Azusa Interdenominational Fellowship.

March 17, 1999

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Cleland (D-GA) introduce S.J. Res. 14. The amendment has 54 co-sponsors. In all, 64 Senators pledge their support of the amendment.

February 24, 1999

Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) and John Murtha (D-PA) introduce H.J. Res. 33, a constitutional amendment to return to the American people the right to protect their flag.

November 4, 1998

Election analysis indicates the CFA is a step closer to passage of a flag-protection constitutional amendment in the U.S. Senate in the 106th Congress. Newly elected Senators who support the flag-protection amendment include Sens. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR), Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) and George Voinovich (R-OH). All three Senators replace incumbents who were on record as "no" votes, thus enhancing the amendment’s chance for passage in the Senate.

October 7, 1998

Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott brings SJR 40 to the floor of the U.S. Senate asking unanimous consent to proceed to debate and vote. Sens. Robert Kerrey (D-NE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) object to consideration of the resolution, citing lack of time to sufficiently debate the amendment. With that, the measure is lost in the 105th Congress.

July 8, 1998

Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on S.J. Res. 40. Those testifying in favor of the amendment include Tommy Lasorda, John Schneider and Harvard Law Professor Richard Parker.

February 4, 1998

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Cleland (D-GA) introduce into the 105th Congress Senate Joint Res. 40. The amendment has 61 co-sponsors.

August 1, 1997

The so-called Citizens for the Constitution is formed to, in their words, “call attention to the adverse effects of fast-paced constitutional tinkering.” They begin by creating eight “standards,” which they claim are intended to address when and how the Constitution should be amended. They lobby Congress to adopt these standards that will govern how the amendment process should, in their opinion, unfold.

June 12, 1997

H.J. Res. 54 passes House 310-114, 20 votes more than needed for passage of a constitutional amendment.

February 13, 1997

Reps. Gerald Solomon (R-NY) and William O. Lipinski (D-IL) introduce into the 105th Congress House Joint Resolution 54, the flag-protection amendment. CFA officials vigorously encourage member organizations and individuals to persuade their representatives to become co-sponsors.

November 1, 1996

Flag amendment supporters capture 25 of the 34 Senate seats and 290 plus House seats. The Citizens Flag Alliance reaffirms its flag amendment commitment.

March 1, 1996

CFA launches massive "Get Out the Vote" and public information effort. The nationwide campaign includes press events, voter registration and voter education drives.

January 1, 1996

CFA launches nationwide campaign to tell citizens how their lawmakers voted on the amendment.

December 12, 1995

Senate rejects SJR 31 by a vote of 63-36; the amendment fails by 3 votes.

August 1, 1995

Fifty-six Senators are co-sponsors of SJR 31.

July 20, 1995

SJR31 passes Senate Judiciary Committee, 12-6.

June 28, 1995

HJR 79 clears House 312-120. 290 votes are needed for passage of a constitutional amendment.

June 6, 1995

White House representative testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee and says President Clinton opposes the flag amendment.

March 21, 1995

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Howell Heflin (D-AL) introduce Senate Joint Resolution 31, calling for a constitutional amendment. Representatives Gerald Solomon (R-NY) and G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery (D-MS) introduce HJR 79, the same resolution, in the House of Representatives.

August 24, 1994

CFA convenes a constitutional scholars’ forum at Williamsburg, VA to determine the underlying merit and political viability of the many options available to prevent the public dishonoring of the American Flag. Prof. Arthur Miller of Harvard University School of Law moderates the forum that is attended by scholars from the nation’s finest legal institutions, advocacy groups and public policy research organizations. To ensure an accurate breadth of ideological input, the forum is evenly divided between scholars supporting and opposing a flag protection amendment.

May 1, 1994

The American Legion approves a resolution authorizing the funding of The Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc. (CFA). CFA is chartered in Virginia as a 501(c) 4 corporation. To promote the flag amendment and flag education, the CFA seeks membership of other civic, social, veterans and fraternal organizations. The CFA organizes in all 50 states and the membership grows to 112 member organizations by December 1995.

December 1, 1993

Memorializing resolution campaign gains steam. By the end of 1993, 35 state legislatures have approved resolutions. Gallup Organization polls show overwhelming public support for flag-protection amendment.

August 25, 1992

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton tells The American Legion National Convention delegates in Chicago that he opposes flag burning and leaves the impression that he would support a flag-protection constitutional amendment.

December 1, 1990

The Legion family refocuses on memorializing resolution campaign in the states. The non-binding resolutions urge the Congress to adopt an amendment allowing “Congress and the states” to enact and enforce flag-protection laws.

June 26, 1990

Senate fails to obtain two-thirds majority for flag-protection amendment.

June 21, 1990

House fails to obtain the two-thirds majority required to pass a flag-protection constitutional amendment.

June 11, 1990

U.S. Supreme Court, in Eichman v. US, rules PL 101-131 unconstitutional.

February 1, 1990

Federal judges in Seattle and Washington, D.C. rule PL 101-131, the Flag Protection Act of 1989, unconstitutional.

October 28, 1989

HR 2978 becomes Public Law 101-131 and U.S. Flags are burned on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest enactment of the law.

October 12, 1989

House and Senate adopt House Resolution 2978, the "Flag Protection Act of 1989," a federal statute, to protect the flag.

September 5, 1989

Delegates to The American Legion National Convention in Baltimore unanimously approves a resolution seeking adoption and ratification of a flag-protection constitutional amendment. In the months that ensue, The Knights of Columbus, The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and many other organizations pass similar resolutions at their national meetings.

July 1, 1989

The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary launch petition drives to collect one million signatures of Americans demanding a flag-protection amendment. The goal is reached within 60 days and the petitions are presented to Congress.

June 21, 1989

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johnson that burning the American flag is free speech protected under the First Amendment. This invalidates flag protection statutes in 48 states and in Washington, DC.

 
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