Keeping Our Promise to the Flag
Sixty three percent of the Senate recently voted to protect our Constitution by denouncing the 1989 Supreme Court decision which declared flag burning to be "speech." Their vote defended our right to protect our flag, a right we enjoyed since our Nation's birth, a right defended by 4 Chief Justices and other justices on 5 Supreme Courts in the last century. It is a right demanded by some 80% of the people and for which 49 States have petitioned the Congress.
James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," denounced flag burning as a crime and so did his friend Thomas Jefferson. Justice Hugo Black said: "Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each successive wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind." He also said: "It passes my belief that anything in the Federal Constitution bars . . . making the deliberate burning of the American flag an offense."
Thirty seven percent of the Senate ignored this incredible array of flag defenders and voted against the right of the people to protect their flag. Tragically, the vote fell 4 short in the Senate although, overall, 70% of the Congress voted to correct the Supreme Court error. The battle will now carry over to the next Congress. America has never won a war without losing some battles. We will win this battle and some day recapture our flag, how soon will depend on we the people.
Abraham Lincoln warned, "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties." We the people must not allow the Supreme Court to interfere with our Constitution. Much of the evil in our society is the result of decisions by black robed unelected judges, and politicians who support them, in defiance of the founders' intent in the Constitution. Those who believe in interpreting the Constitution according to current trends teach us that that sacred document says pornography is protected speech, prayer is not; that you may burn our flag but not your draft card and that you may display in public any obscenity, but not the 10 commandments.
Many of these politicians agree with Senator John Edwards (NC) who acknowledged that he received thousands of calls in favor of the flag amendment and none opposed, but said he didn't care what the people thought, they had sent him to the Senate to vote the way he wanted. We are a Republic but the will of the people is our only protection from tyranny. We may disagree on flag burning but we must agree on the inviolability of our Constitution, the Constitution as written by the Founders, not as interpreted by the legal elite. We should be outraged by those who despoil that precious document for their own political agenda.
Flag desecration is not speech and to say so desecrates our Constitution.
As always, the battle to protect our Constitution is left to we the people and our only defense is to elect leaders who revere both the constitutional intent of the founders and the will of the people.
A politician's position on the flag amendment will tell much about their philosophy on the Constitution and the will of the people. Flag burning is wrong, but what it teaches is worse. It teaches our children disrespect. It teaches that the outrageous conduct of a minority is more important than the will of the majority. It teaches that our laws need not reflect our values and that the courts, not the people or the Congress, own the Constitution.
Every American, in the presence of Old Glory, has promised to safeguard our Constitution. Our veterans make their promise when they raise their hand and vow to protect it from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Our children do so when they raise their hand to their heart and say the pledge. Our pledge as civilians and oath as veterans mandate that we correct the mistakes of the Supreme Court. That is the bottom line objective of the flag amendment. It is an effort to keep a promise and we will not have kept that promise until Old Glory is freed from the grasp of the courts and returned to the bosom of the people.
The courts demand that we accept flag burning. We are not demanding that people love our flag as we do, we are demanding that the immutable truths of our Founding Fathers be restored to our Constitution.
This article appeared in the June, 2000 Special Salute to the Flag Edition of the 'Scottish Rite Journal'