US President-elect Donald Trump has proposed imprisonment or forfeiture of citizenship for those Americans who burn the country’s flag — an act which is protected by two rulings of the country’s apex court under the First Amendment as a form of free speech.
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted.
In at least two previous instances in 1989 and 1990, the US Supreme Court upheld the right to desecrate the American flag as a form of free speech.
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In the 1989 case "Texas v Johnson," the top court ruled that flag burning was a form of "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment. The ruling followed an appeal from Gregory Johnson, who had been convicted by a Texas court of violating a state law that prohibited the "desecration of a venerated object" such as the US flag.
The following year, in "United states v Eichman," the top court again affirmed the right to burn the flag when it ruled that the Flag Protection Act of 1989 - passed by Congress in response to the Johnson decision - was unconstitutional.
This article originally appeared on CNN
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