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Republicans Tire Of The First Amendment
Or maybe it's just an election year. The Senate is now debating a constitutional amendment banning flag burning:

A vote is expected this week, before the Fourth of July congressional recess.

Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, compared the measure to Supreme Court decisions banning so-called "fighting words," slander, libel, obscenity and pornography involving children. As such, he said, it has no "social value."

"Flag burning is a form of expression that is spiteful or vengeful," the five-term Pennsylvania Republican said during the debate. "It is designed to hurt. It is not designed to persuade."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, argued that burning the American flag was precisely the kind of speech the First Amendment is meant to protect.

"The First Amendment never needs defending when it comes to popular speech," the six-term Vermont senator said. "It's when it comes to unpopular speech that it needs defending."

He called the efforts to pass the amendment "electioneering rallying cries" that struck at the heart of what the Constitution and the flag represent.

"I would hope that all of us in this chamber champion liberty ... but when I hear some talk about cutting back on our First Amendment rights, you can see why people would wonder," Leahy said.

Democrats are not the only ones against the amendment. It also does not have the support of the Senate's No 2. Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"I think the First Amendment has served us well for over 200 years. I don't think it needs to be altered," McConnell said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Posted by aalkon at June 27, 2006 9:26 AM

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Comments

Yes, Congress is dealing with the really hot issues of the day - like criminalizing something that almost never happens, and isn't that big a deal to most people when it does.

To me, the only argument in favor of this is that when Congress is focusing on something totally meaningless, they can't be causing any other mischief. On the other hand, when we have a health care crisis, an illegal immigrant crisis, global warming, a huge budget deficit, billions of dollars and thousands of lives being poured into establishing an extremely tentative democracy (while simultaneously ignoring foreign issues like the Sudan), and just a few other mega-problems confronting us, it's not necessarily a good idea to have Congress doing busywork.

Posted by: Melissa at June 27, 2006 3:54 PM

Who wants to burn a flag, anyway? I'd much rather toss a lit match into Katherine Harris's hair.

Posted by: Lena at June 27, 2006 9:55 PM

>>To me, the only argument in favor of this is that when Congress is focusing on something totally meaningless, they can't be causing any other mischief.

Works for me. Ban flag-burning and gay marriages! Or allow them! I don't care which, just keep busy with them until fall elections.

Posted by: Gary S. at June 29, 2006 8:30 PM

This was probably too long ago for anyone to notice I'm commenting, but honestly, when was the last time you saw somebody burn a flag on American soil? They ought to make an amendment that if you're going to charge 7 dollars for a daiquiri, there should be more than a teaspoon of rum in it. There's a major problem in society...

Posted by: Brenda at July 9, 2006 3:34 PM

I like you, Brenda!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 10, 2006 8:17 AM

Nice site.
Good work.

Haggard

Posted by: haggard at April 17, 2007 10:48 PM

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