Trump Believes Flag Burners Should Lose Citizenship or Spend a Year in Jail

It doesn’t matter to the president-elect that the Supreme Court has already ruled, twice, that flag burning is protected under the First Amendment.

Donald Trump gives a speech as he announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, in New York City.
Donald Trump gives a speech as he announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, in New York City. Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump is destroying freedoms on Twitter again. Despite two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that burning the U.S. flag is a right protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution, Trump tweeted Tuesday that burning the American flag should result in a penalty that could include jail time or loss of citizenship.

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted.

According to CNN, Supreme Court cases from 1989 and 1990 confirmed that Americans have the right to desecrate the flag. In 1989 the Supreme Court found in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning is considered a form of “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment. In 1990 the nation’s highest court found that the Flag Protection Act of 1989, passed in response to the court’s decision the previous year, was unconstitutional.

Because the next president hasn’t attended a proper civics class, CNN legal analyst Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School, had to school him.

“In addition to ignoring the Supreme Court’s clear teaching that flag burning is constitutionally protected speech, Mr. Trump’s tweet also casually suggests that citizens should lose their citizenship as a ‘penalty’ for such acts,” Vladeck said. “Even if flag burning wasn’t protected, it would still be unconstitutional to deprive someone of their citizenship without some voluntary act on their part to renounce their allegiance to the United States or pledge fealty to a foreign sovereign.”

Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller echoed Trump’s sentiment in noting that burning the flag is different from freedom of speech.

“Flag burning should be illegal,” Miller told CNN. “The president-elect is a very strong supporter of the First Amendment, but there’s a big difference between that and burning the American flag.”

Trump’s opposition to the protection of flag burning puts him at odds with conservative leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Trump has praised as a “brilliant Supreme Court justice, one of the best of all time.”

Read more at CNN.

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