Trump calls for jailing, revoking citizenship of flag-burners

   < < Go Back
from Politico,

Laws prohibiting the burning or desecration of the American flag have been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Burning an American flag should be a crime, President-elect Donald Trump wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter, perhaps punishable by a forfeiture of U.S. citizenship or a year in 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!” Trump wrote in a post to his social media account.

Laws prohibiting the burning or desecration of the flag have been struck down by the Supreme Court, most recently in 1990, because they were found to have violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech. A 1958 Supreme Court decision rejected the practice of stripping U.S. citizenship as a form of criminal punishment, on the grounds that it violates Eighth Amendment protections against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In a 5-4 decision in 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the right of protesters to burn the flag, with the late Justice Antonin Scalia siding with the protesters. He later said he based his ruling on a “textual” reading of the Constitution.

“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,” Scalia said in 2015 in Philadelphia. “But I am not king.”

McConnell disagreed sharply with Trump’s tweet when asked about it during a press availability on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court has held that that activity is a protected First Amendment right, a form of unpleasant speech, and in this country we have a long tradition of respecting unpleasant speech. I happen to support the Supreme Court’s decision on that matter,” McConnell said.

Some protesters upset with Trump’s Election Day victory have set fire to American flags at demonstrations throughout the country. At Hampshire College, a small school in western Massachusetts, administrators removed the American flag from campus after protesters there burned one, according to WWLP-TV. That decision prompted a protest of more than 1,000 people, many of them veterans, upset with the school’s decision.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, struggled to defend the president-elect’s post in an interview on CNN’s “New Day” just minutes after the tweet appeared online. “Chris, flag burning is completely ridiculous. And I think you know that and I think the vast majority of Americans would agree,” Miller told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

“But legal,” Cuomo interjected.

As he made his way through a Capitol Hill office building, Senator McCain told CNN that “I do not approve of burning the flag. I think there should be some punishment, but right now, the Supreme Court decision is that people are free to express themselves that way.”

More From Politico: