The Desecration Of The American Flag Essay
Gregory Johnson was arrested, tried, and convicted for violating a Texas statute that prohibited the desecration of the American Flag. Johnson burned the American Flag in a Dallas rally against the Reagan Administration. No one was physical injured, and there was no threat of injury, yet his conviction was appealed by a state appeals court, a decision that was later reversed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on grounds that the burning of the flag was an expression protected by the First Amendment.
Texas appealed to the Supreme Court, where the decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was affirmed in a five-to-four decision in favor of Johnson.
1. Was Johnson’s act of burning the flag within the realms of expressive conduct, as to permit him to invoke the First Amendment to challenge his conviction?
2. Does the state’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol justifies Johnson’s conviction?
1. Yes, the state of Texas recognizes Johnson’s burning of the flag as expressive conduct, and in the conduct there were enough elements of communication to invoke the First Amendment.
2. No, the state’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol does not justify the conviction because it’s not consistent with the First Amendment.
Opinion of the Court:
Justice Brennan starts the opinion of the Court by acknowledging the complex reality of this conviction, and the First Amendment. the standards for regulations of…