The Ongoing Debates
"This ruling [Texas v. Johnson] deeply divides the country, and there are very few Court rulings which we can imagine evoking such a reaction as this one."--Peter Jennings (210)
Pro-flag burning
  • "By upholding freedom, even the freedom to be obnoxious and offensive in burning the flag as a symbolic political act, we honor ourselves, and in doing so, the flag."--Georgia's former attorney general Michael Bowers

  • "I wonder what [people] think the flag stands for. It's a right to challenge our basic notions, to disagree without having tanks rolled over you. That's what people have fought for for 200 years."-- Martin Redish, Northwestern University law professor

  • "The Court placed such a high value on free expression and has delivered a message for patriotic Americans to be proud of, which will allow the flag to wave more proudly than ever."--New York Times editorial
Pro- flag protection
  • "The flag must be protected because it is the very source of the right to exercise free speech."--Rep. Christopher Cox

  • "The flag is not merely cloth dyed red, white, and blue, but also the one visible manifestation of 200 years of nationhood."--Justice William Rehnquist

  • "Flag burning is an unlawful, unwarranted, and unacceptable assault on the very meaning of America."-- Sen. Jesse Helms Iwo Jima photo
  • "These six brave soldiers were symbolically shot in the back by five men in black robes."--Rep. Ron Marlenee
  • "The American flag is the one symbol that unites a very diverse people in a way nothing else can, in peace and war... Failure to protect the flag inevitably loosens this bond."-- SJC majority's published argument for a flag amendment