Citizens Flag Alliance Flag Protection Amendment

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Citizens Flag Alliance

Flag Protection Amendment

2003 - 2004

Message Points

Issue ­­­– Constitutional amendment to protect the Flag of the United States from intentional, physical desecration.

Message Points:
The Citizens Flag Alliance is a national coalition of organizations that have come together to persuade the Congress of the United States to propose a constitutional amendment that will return to the American people the right to protect their flag.

  • CFA is comprised of 144 organizations representing over 20 million Americans.

  • Independent surveys over ten years indicate nearly 80 percent of Americans favor flag protection. The most recent, a 2002 Market Strategies survey, showed three in four respondents (76%) said they favored the passage of a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to enact laws protecting the U.S. Flag.

  • All 50 state legislatures have passed Memorial Resolutions petitioning Congress to send the amendment to the states.

  • More than 3 million signatures have been gathered on petitions in favor of the proposed amendment.

The Flag of the United States of America is a national treasure that deserves to be protected.

  • It says "America.” It is our one, unifying symbol of nationhood and national unity.

  • State laws banning flag desecration were on the books from the 1880s until 1989, when a Supreme Court ruling (Texas v. Johnson) struck down those laws.

  • The American Flag is the one unifying symbol for a nation of immigrants.

  • “Old Glory” predates the Constitution by a decade.

The 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision means that the only way to protect the American Flag is through a constitutional amendment.

  • Congress voiced "profound disappointment" and "concern" over the high court’s decision and passed the Flag Protection Act of 1989.

  • In 1990 the Flag Protection Act of 1989 was declared unconstitutional.

  • The Flag is not mentioned in the Constitution, therefore it cannot be protected by the Constitution.

  • Among the rights set out in the First Amendment is the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. We are exercising our First Amendment rights to petition Congress for redress on the flag protection issue.

Citizens Flag Alliance -(317) 630-1384

October 2003

The broad-based CFA coalition is going about this the right way, seeking opinion and counsel from Constitutional Scholars and elected officials.

An amendment to the Constitution requires 2/3 favorable vote by both chambers of Congress and ratification by 3/4 (38) of the states.

  • 1995 - House vote on the flag amendment = 312-120; Senate 63-36 (3 short of passage)

  • 1997 - House vote on flag amendment = 310-114 (290 votes required for passage)

  • The measure was lost in the 105th Congress, when the Senate failed to consider the amendment before the close of the Session, Dec. 1998.

  • 1999 - House vote on the flag amendment = 305-124

  • 2000 - Senate vote on the flag amendment = 63-37 (4 short of passage)

  • 2001 - House vote on the flag amendment = 298-125

  • The measure was lost in the 107th Congress, when the Senate failed to consider the amendment before the close of the session, Dec. 2002.

  • 2003 - House vote on the flag amendment = 300-125

  • Action in the US Senate is pending.

  • It is crucial that all Americans contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives and encourage them to support the flag-protection amendment.

  • A flag-protection amendment is not about legislating patriotism. The amendment does not compel any type of behavior, nor would any subsequent law. For 100 years, the American people had the right to protect their flag and a flag protection amendment is about returning that right to the American people.

  • The flag-protection amendment introduced in the 108th Congress reads: “Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the Flag of the United States.”

  • The American Legion has adopted numerous flag education and flag etiquette programs. Additional information regarding the proper display of the flag and flag etiquette can be found on The American Legion’s webpage at

  • What is a flag? The amendment says the “flag of the United States.” That’s a clear, legal term for what is being addressed. The Congress agreed, in the Flag Protection Act of 1989, that the term “flag of the United States means any flag of the United States, or any part thereof, made of any substance, of any size, in a form that is commonly displayed.” That makes it pretty clear we are not talking about ties with flags on them or birthday cakes with Stars and Stripes icing.

Citizens Flag Alliance -(317) 630-1384

October 2003

  • Desecration vs. disposal: For 100 years our courts and the American people were able to tell the difference between desecration and the proper disposal of worn flags. It didn't present a problem then, and it doesn’t present a problem now. In 1989 Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, and it was able to define “desecration” and “flag.” Congress defined desecration as “to knowingly mutilate, deface, physically defile, burn, maintain on the floor or ground, or trample upon the Flag of the United States.” An exception for disposal was written into the law. Unlike some of our opponents, we trust the good common sense of the American people and the fairness of the courts.

1. Didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court rule that flag desecration was a form of free speech? Flag burning should not be defended as free speech – it is conduct. There are a lot of physical acts that aren’t defensible as free speech. The Supreme Court has upheld that burning a draft card is not free speech. Defacing U.S. currency or a mailbox cannot be defended as free speech. Indecent exposure is not considered free speech. Burning crosses is illegal; and burning our flag falls into the same category as these unacceptable forms of conduct.
Note: If you see coverage of the flag protection issue in your local newspaper, please clip the item (ensure the clip is dated), and mail or fax it to the Citizens Flag Alliance at P. O. Box 7197, Indianapolis, IN 46207-7179. Fax (317) 630-1385.
Also, visit our home page at:

Citizens Flag Alliance -(317) 630-1384

October 2003

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