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First Amendment

Please provide assistance with the following questions:

1. Is burning an American flag protected by the First Amendment? Why or why not? Should there be a constitutional amendment banning this practice?

2. Is there a difference between government establishment of a religion and the freedom to worship? How has this issue played out in public schools?

3. What is the responsibility of the press in a democratic society?

Solution Preview

Hi,

Excellent questions!

RESPONSE:

1. Is burning an American flag protected by the First Amendment? Why or why not? Should there be a constitutional amendment banning this practice?

Congress tried to pass the Flag Protection Act of 1989 (see http://www.esquilax.com/flag/protection.shtml), but the act failed because it is seen as a form of public protection. There have been other attempts to pass legislation to protect the American flag but all of the attempts have failed so far.

The topic of flag burning is very controversial because people have different definitions of what "freedom of speech" means and what our flag stands for. For example, proponents argue for a law protecting the flag and the opponents view point argues against such a law. The most debated question being asked at this time is: is flag burning protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech? It all depends on how a person defines the flag and interprets the First Amendment (http://www.123helpme.com/assets/10030.htmlys, attached wit both sides of the argument detailed).

(b) Should there be a constitutional amendment banning this practice?

It depends which side of the argument you are on. It seems reasonable that burning of the American flag is beyond one's freedom of speech rights, and an amendment should be in place of banning this practice. In the attached article on the flag debate, most Americans think it is unconstitutional, however e..g, the flag is only a piece of mateiral, nothing more, nothing less.

However, in the past, judges have called it unconstitutional. For example, in June 1990, "the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Haggerty and U.S. v. Eichman upheld the district court rulings that the Flag Protection Act is unconstitutional. This law is still part of the U.S. Code, although it is not likely to be enforced unless a Flag Protection Amendment passes. I have reproduced the Act verbatim from the U.S. Code (disclaimer: this is a copy, and not the official version. I'm pretty confident it's correct.)" (http://www.esquilax.com/flag/protection.shtml).

Surveys suggest that the vast majority of Americans disagree with an amendment. The proponents feel that it is a way to preserve the values that America stands for, but the opponents feel that this amendment will hinder their rights as citizens of America. Which side is right? I guess it is up to each citizen of America to decide what s//he feel is right and take a stand on this issue (http://www.esquilax.com/flag/protection.shtml).

See the attached article for other considerations.

2. Is there a difference between government establishment of a ...

Solution Summary

By example, this soltuion discusses the First Amendment e.g. burning of an American flag, government establishment of a religion vs. the freedom to worship and the responsibility of the press in a democratic society. Supplemented with two article on the burning of the flag debate e.g. is it protected by the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.

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