August 15, 2007
Supreme Court Chronicle
I feel the need to give a proviso to right wing nuts who frequent this blog (mainly myself and Premier Keith Kumar): I don't like the idea of burning American flag, I don't plan to burn it after I post, and I think anyone who chooses to do so strangely damns an institution that gives then the freedom to engage in such political speech. However, the right to political speech not suppressed by government action represents the foundation of the bill of rights. Now, I realize that the constitutional convention almost forgot about individual rights but their recognition of its absence should demonstrate its importance.
Now, the real reason I posted was to share a source of inspiration. Often, I read Supreme Court decisions as others would read a novel or even poetry. Regardless of their judicial philosophy, supreme court justices often have an uncanny ability to espouse their judicial rational (yes even Scalia). So, without further delay, I present a paragraph from the Texas v. Johnson decision authored by Supreme Court Justice William Brennan...Enjoy
"We are tempted to say, in fact, that the flag's deservedly cherished place in our community will be strengthened, not weakened, by our holding today. Our decision is a reaffirmation of the principles of freedom and inclusiveness that the flag best reflects, and of the conviction that our toleration of criticism such as Johnson's is a sign and source of our strength. Indeed, one of the proudest images of our flag, the one immortalized in our own national anthem, is of the bombardment it survived at Fort McHenry. It is the Nation's resilience, not its rigidity, that Texas sees reflected in the flag -- and it is that resilience that we reassert today....
"And, precisely because it is our flag that is involved, one's response to the flag-burner [a witness to the flag burning eventually took the remains and buried them] may exploit the uniquely persuasive power of the flag itself. We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one's own, no better way to counter a flag burner's message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by -- as one witness here did -- according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.