Burning the Constitution, Again

Precisely 10 years ago this week, it was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that to allow the burning of a flag would destroy it as our "symbol of nationhood and national unity." In response, one of the justices pointed out that, to the contrary, the protest action by flag-burner Johnson "would have been useless unless the flag was a very good symbol. His action does not make it any less a symbol."

The justice also wondered whether the special protection afforded the flag as a sacred symbol might also be then granted to copies of the U.S. Constitution: "Well, how do you pick out what to protect? I mean, if I had to pick between the Constitution and the flag, I might well go with the Constitution."

Which "liberal" justice raised these anti-patriotic questions? Which enemy of the people would thus jeopardize Old Glory?

That would be one Antonin Scalia, presumably the court's most conservative voice, and one of the key votes upholding the First Amendment in 1989. Over the past 10 years, such words of wisdom have been rare from Scalia.

But not as rare as flag-burning.

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