Trump conflicts with First Amendment by suggesting ‘consequences’ for flag-burners

November 29, 2016
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Associated Press
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally Nov. 9 in New York.
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Associated Press
In this July 20 photo, a law enforcement officer takes Gregory “Joey” Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention. President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that anyone who burns an American flag should face unspecified “consequences,” such as jail or a loss of citizenship – a move that was ruled out by the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that anyone who burns an American flag should face unspecified “consequences,” such as jail or a loss of citizenship – a move that was ruled out by the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago.

Macaque in the trees
In this July 20 photo, a law enforcement officer takes Gregory “Joey” Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention. President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that anyone who burns an American flag should face unspecified “consequences,” such as jail or a loss of citizenship – a move that was ruled out by the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago.
Associated Press

Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday morning, stating, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

It was not immediately clear what prompted the tweet.

The president-elect’s tweet is a direct conflict with free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It came as he prepared to name a secretary of state and transportation secretary.

“We have a responsibility as a country” to carefully protect the rights enshrined in the Constitution, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that flag-burning is “expressive conduct” protected by the First Amendment.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that he does not “support or believe in the idea of people burning the American flag. I support the First Amendment.” He added that Congress has no plans to take action against flag burning.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., took issue with the tweet. “We want to protect those people who want to protest … I disagree with Mr. Trump on that,” Duffy said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day”.

Duffy is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s panel on oversight and investigations.

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