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House Approves Flag-Burning Amendment

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20050622/D8ASREC00.html House Approves Flag-Burning Amendment Jun 22, 3:08 PM (ET) By LAURIE KELLMAN WASHINGTON (AP) - The
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 22, 2005

      House Approves Flag-Burning Amendment

      Jun 22, 3:08 PM (ET)


      WASHINGTON (AP) - The House on Wednesday approved a
      constitutional amendment that would give Congress the
      power to ban desecration of the American flag, a
      measure that for the first time stands a chance of
      passing the Senate as well.

      By a 286-130 vote - eight more than needed - House
      members approved the amendment after a debate over
      whether such a ban would uphold or run afoul of the
      Constitution's free-speech protections.

      Approval of two-thirds of the lawmakers present was
      required to send the bill on to the Senate, where
      activists on both sides say it stands the best chance
      of passage in years. If the amendment is approved in
      that chamber by a two-thirds vote, it would then move
      to the states for ratification.

      Supporters said the measure reflected patriotism that
      deepened after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,
      and they accused detractors of being out of touch with
      public sentiment.

      "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World)
      Trade Center," said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham,
      R-Calif. "Ask them and they will tell you: pass this

      But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said, "If the flag
      needs protection at all, it needs protection from
      members of Congress who value the symbol more than the
      freedoms that the flag represents."

      The measure was designed to overturn a 1989 decision
      by the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 that flag
      burning was a protected free-speech right. That ruling
      threw out a 1968 federal statute and flag-protection
      laws in 48 states. The law was a response to
      anti-Vietnam war protesters setting fire to the
      American flag at their demonstrations.

      The proposed one-line amendment to the Constitution
      reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the
      physical desecration of the flag of the United
      States." For the language to be added to the
      Constitution, it must be approved not only by
      two-thirds of each chamber but also by 38 states
      within seven years.

      Each time the proposed amendment has come to the House
      floor, it has reached the required two-thirds
      majority. But the measure has always died in the
      Senate, falling short of the 67 votes needed. The last
      time the Senate took up the amendment was in 2000,
      when it failed 63-37.

      But last year's elections gave Republicans a four-seat
      pickup in the Senate, and now proponents and critics
      alike say the amendment stands within a vote or two of
      reaching the two-thirds requirement in that chamber.

      By most counts, 65 current senators have voted for or
      said they intend to support the amendment, two shy of
      the crucial tally. More than a quarter of current
      senators were not members of that chamber during the
      last vote.

      The Senate is expected to consider the measure after
      the July 4th holiday.


      The amendment is H.J. Res 10.
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