Monday, June 27, 2005
On this day:

The Flag-Burning Amendment

Mark Steyn has some pretty good arguments against the flag desecration amendment approved by the U.S. House last week. (The only Alabama Representative to vote against the amendment was Artur Davis, a Democrat.)

I agree with Steyn's arguments against the amendment, but I'd add the following:

It is poorly written and invites interference by the judiciary. The proposed amendment states that "the Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." The amendment leaves the question of who defines "physical desecration" unanswered. It is clear to me that the intent is for Congress to have that power, but the amendment's vague language seems to be an open invitation to intervention by the federal courts.

The amendment also leaves the states out of the equation. The amendment would give the power to ban desecration exclusively to Congress, so it's a good assumption that the federal government would be responsible for its enforcement. Does that mean that Congress will have to provide for a federal "desecration police" to scour the land in search of the long-haired tofu-eaters who fit the profile of flag desecrators? It seems to me that such a power ought to reside in the states, if anywhere.

As Jonah Goldberg said in the Corner last week, I like Louisiana's solution to this problem. According to Jonah: favorite solution, if memory serves, was when Louisiana declared it would fine people who beat-up flag burners $25. So a bunch of folks pre-paid the fine and carried the receipts as flag-burning permits.