Flag Amendment fixes Constitution

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

As we near a Senate vote on the flag amendment, which passed the House for the 6th time June 22, the hysteria in the media runs wild. They fear it could pass and in their frenzy they distort the facts. From recent radio and TV interviews it is clear to me that many of them have not read the amendment and do not understand its purpose or impact. Tragically, they mislead their audience and are blatantly unfair to the truth. As an aside, many of those who fight for the right to desecrate the symbol of our country are outraged at the desecration of the symbol of many terrorists. Let's look at the truth.

Many in the media support flag desecration as free "expression."

One need only think of the many types of expression to know why the Founders wisely eschewed that word. Some, in desperation to fit their objections into the First Amendment, use the word "speech" in contradiction of the dictionary and in defiance to reason.

Sixteen years ago 90 Senators voted for a statute to protect the flag after the Supreme Court, in Texas v. Johnson, took that right away. Those Senators could not have so voted if they believed flag desecration was constitutionally protected speech. Three of four Americans, all 50 states and over 70 percent of the Congress agree that desecrating the flag is not speech.

Critics say the amendment protects the flag and changes the Bill of Rights. It does neither, and this is important to understand.

The flag amendment says: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

An amendment, of itself, does not protect the flag. It simply takes control over the flag away from the courts and returns it to the people where it resided until 1989. Once the amendment is ratified, and only then, can a law be passed to protect the flag. This point is fundamental for those Senators who seek a statute to protect Old Glory. They can have a statute, but only after an amendment is ratified by the people.

As for changing the Bill of Rights, consider this. By judicial fiat, with a single vote from one Supreme Court Justice, flag desecration was inserted into the Bill of Rights. If you deny this then answer this question: If the Court had declared that flag burning was not speech, would they then have amended the Bill of Rights?

One pundit feared the amendment would curtail the rights of those who hate us. There are no laws against hating, but there are laws against hateful conduct. Flag burning fits both roles. But this is about rights, the right of the people to protect their flag, the right of the majority to rule, the right of the people to define their Constitution. And beyond the flag, this issue spills over into the right to protect our children from pornography, the right to own property, to pray, to post the Ten Commandments, and to say the "Pledge of Allegiance."

If we can recapture our flag, we will have begun a march to recapture our Constitution.

-- Patrick H. Brady

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, credited with the medical evacuation of over 5,000 combat casualties while serving as a "Dustoff" helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. He is Chairman of the Board of the Citizen's Flag Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 civic, fraternal, veterans, minority and business organizations representing some 20 million Americans determined to return to the people their right to protect Old Glory.