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United States v. Eichman

Lecture notes:
Congress passed the Flag Protection Act of 1989

•Review Texas v. Johnson
•What’s good for the States is good for the Nation as a whole…(lyles)?


11 Comments

  1. The Court struck down the Flag Protection Act, making it known that the act of burning flags is protected under the 1st Amendment

  2. Thank you to the U.S. government for letting me burn flags if I desire, I pass on the activity only because the smell of burning polyester is not my preferred pastime.

  3. In this case, there was the Flag Protection Act that prohibit burning flags. How it is part of Freedom of Speech the Court decided that individuals are able to burning flags without repression.

  4. The congress passes the Flag protection act of 1989. Gladly, Eichmann burned the flag in a protest situation. He went to court and the Supreme Court that this Flag protection Act violated the freedom of expression.

  5. Congress passed the Flag protection act of 1989 which prohibited the burning of the American flag or anything similar to it. Eichman burned the American flag on the steps of the U.S. capitol while protesting against the government’s domestic and foreign policy. The court ruled in favor of Eichman and stated that the act did violate the freedom of expression protected by the first amendment. The court struck down the act because it had intended to suppress the free of expression and the content of the expression.

  6. Similar from Texas v Johnson, the court struck down the law because they restricted the freedom of expression. It’s argued that the burning is allowed in disposal ceremony, but then why is it prohibited from it being set ablaze at a political protest that was the opinion of Justice Brennan.

  7. This case is closely tied to Texas v. Johnson because they both involve state and federal violations of statues meant to prevent flag desecration. The court narrowly ruled that the law was unconstitutional and struck it down.

  8. In this case the SC exercised their power to review federal law and its constitutionality. According to this act congress made the desecration of the American flag and other items like it. The act did allow for proper disposal of worn flags. It in a split decision the court struck down the law. The court decided that the goal of the act was to limit the content of the expression related to burning the flag and therefore decided that this law was unconstitutional.

  9. Anshu NidamanuriNov 16, 2020
    This case ruled that the Flag Protection Act which was passed by congress prohibiting the destruction of the American flag was shut down due to the suppression of freedom of expression.
    Reply
    Matt Springer
    Matt SpringerNov 16, 2020
    In United States v. Eichman, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act which made it a crime to destroy an American flag. Several prosecutions resulted from the Act. Eichman set a flag ablaze on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while protesting the government’s domestic and foreign policy. The CQ of the case is did the Act violate freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment? The COurt said, in a 5-4 vote, ruled in a similar way to the last case and struck down the law. This was because struck the law “asserted interest is related to the suppression of free expression and concerned with the content of such expression.”
    Reply
    Nay Tjatur
    Nay TjaturNov 15, 2020
    The Court in this case ruled that the Flag Protection Act is a violation of the First Amendment, because the state is asserting its interest only in suppressing the freedom of expression.
    Reply
    Elizabeth Peralta
    Elizabeth PeraltaNov 12, 2020
    In this case the court held that the Flag Protection Act passed by congress was in violation of the first amendment right of freedom of expression
    Reply
    Emma Whaley
    Emma WhaleyNov 5, 2020
    Following the ruling in Texas v Johnson, congress passed the Flag Protection Act of 1989 that stated, “Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both…” The only question left after deciding that the conduct was expressive and that flag burning DOES enjoy first amendment protection, is if the flag protection act is sufficiently distinct from the Texas statute that it may be constitutionally applied to proscribe the appellee’s expressive conduct. The supreme court says it is not. They found that it was clear that the government interest in protecting the physical integrity of the flag is related to the suppression of free expression because it rests on the perceived need to preserve the flag’s status as a symbol of the nation. This interest in protecting the flag’s symbolic value is directly related to the suppression of expression, which entitles it to “most exacting scrutiny”, as in Texas v Johnson. Like in Johnson, the interest cannot justify the first amendment infringement. They found that this act went beyond the government’s ability to create national symbols and encourage their respectful treatment by criminally proscribing expressive conduct because of its likely communicative impact.
    Reply
    Liliana Diaz
    Liliana DiazNov 1, 2020
    I agree with the Court that the fact that the flag was allowed to be burned in a disposal ceremony but prohibited the burning of the flag when it was in a political protect context made it clear that it was related to the suppression of free expression.
    Reply
    Ben Lee
    Ben LeeNov 1, 2020
    Following Texas v. Johnson, congress set out to try to burn flag burning. They promptly passed the flag protection act. this criminalized actions such as mutilating or burning the flag (amongst others). Congress specifically passed thjis statute with Johnson in mind. The statute was intended to protect the physical integrity of the flag rather than preventing enraged onlookers as in Johnson. The court found that because the flag is a clear symbol, the statute criminalizes only negative actions(mutilations…), and it makes exceptions for positive ones (ceremony); congress is attempting to outlaw speech it does not like
    Reply
    Jyah Vora
    Jyah VoraOct 29, 2020
    In this case, Eichman set a flag on fire on the stairs of the U.S. Capitol in regards to protests. However, the Flag Protection Act of 1989 practically state that you cannot do anything malicious to the U.S, unless the flag was old and worn. The court ruled this act to be in violation of Freedom of Expression protected under the First Amendment. The court reasoned that the Act was content-based and therefore was related to the suppression of freedom of expression.
    Reply
    Yj Hwang
    Yj HwangDec 12, 2019
    Similar to symbolic speech. Outlawing violence against the flag infringes upon 1st amendment rights for expression.
    Reply
    Monalisa Mensah
    Monalisa MensahNov 10, 2019
    Justice Brennan argued that the allowing the flag to be burned in a disposal ceremony but prohibiting protestors from setting it ablaze at a political protest made it clear that the asserted interest is related to the suppression of free expression and concerned with the content of the expression. In short, the decision expands expression because it strikes down as unconstitutional a statute whose prohibition wasn’t explicitly content-related but was nevertheless principally aimed at limiting symbolic speech.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 6, 2019
    the Court quickly disposed of the Flag Protection Act of 1989 because they ruled that not being able to burn the flag would be in clear violation of the 1st amendment since it was seen this the act of flag burning could be seen as an expression.
    Reply
    Omar Leon
    Omar LeonNov 6, 2019
    Just like in Texas v. Johnson, the court protected the action under freedom of speech as a for of expression. I think that these two rulings are important as we see that the court does protect the amendments of the constitution, even in scenarios that would be considered offensive and disrespectful by many. It is an important action as often times, the general public believes that the court and the government in general does not care about the rights of the people.
    Reply
    Crystal Lopez
    Crystal LopezNov 5, 2019
    The Flag Protection Act of 1989 was in clear violation of the First amendment since flag burning is an expressive conduct. The court reasoned that it was clear that the government’s interest was related to the suppression of free speech which makes it unconstitutional.
    Reply
    Alfredo Navarro
    Alfredo NavarroNov 5, 2019
    This was an easy case to understand and one where the SC used its judiciary power to strike down a legislative action that violated the first amendment as the Flag Protection Act of 1989 was blatantly restricting one side of speech in favor of an opposing side of that speech.
    Reply
    Marissa Scavelli
    Marissa ScavelliNov 4, 2019
    Congress passed the Flag Protection Act in 1989 making it a crime to destroy the American flag. Shortly after in United States v. Eichman, the Supreme Court struck down the Flag Protection Act. In this case, the court struck down the act because “its asserted interest is related to the suppression of free expression and concerned with the content of such expression.” Basically, the government’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol does not outweigh peoples First Amendment rights to disparage that symbol through expressive acts, like burning.
    Reply
    Andrew Tuider
    Andrew TuiderNov 4, 2019
    The federal law in question was made in direct response to the court’s ruling in Texas v Johnson, but prohibiting mistreatment of the flag without regard to any message being conveyed to circumvent its ruling. The fact that the court once again struck down the law is a good example of why it is important to have an independent judiciary
    Reply
    Henry Jiang
    Henry JiangNov 3, 2019
    The Court that the Flag Protection Act issued by Congress was unconstitutional since “its asserted interest is related to the suppression of free expression and concerned with the content of such expression.”
    Reply
    Brooke Saunders
    Brooke SaundersNov 3, 2019
    Similar to Texas v Johnson, the Court found that the Act violated the First Amendment because its interest is with the suppression of free speech and the content of the speech, both of which are unconstitutional.
    Reply
    Ines Josefina Castaneda
    Ines Josefina CastanedaNov 3, 2019
    The court said that this law limited the freedom of expression in which it can be agreed since people can tend to do this in protests.
    Reply
    Sylvia Waz
    Sylvia WazNov 3, 2019
    The court struck down an Act of Congress that made it illegal to mutilate a flag unless it was to dispose of it. They deemed it unconstitutional because, like in Texas v. Johnson, the government cannot limit freedom of expression. The state interest did not outweigh what the protesters were trying to demonstrate.
    Reply
    Daniel Garcia
    Daniel GarciaNov 3, 2019
    The Supreme Court ruled that the Flag Protection Act passed by Congress was unconstitutional because they deemed flag burning to be an act of expression that is protected under the freedom of speech clause. The ruling is consistent with Texas v. Johnson. I think this particular case does a really nice job of showcasing the powers of the Legislative and Judicial branches. I would argue that a majority of Congress disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson and thus crafted a law to combat that decision. However, the Supreme Court still struck the Act down. As a result, it is clear that even though the Judicial branch does not craft legislation, they still have a tremendous amount of power by having the ability to strike down acts of Congress as unconstitutional (Judicial Review.)
    Reply
    Jason Davis
    Jason DavisNov 3, 2019
    The precedent for this case seems to have come from Texas v Johnson, the 5-4 split by the Court is even the same.This case might have been necessary to now set a national precdent to all future flag burning related incidents and subsequent arrests.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 5, 2017
    The court’s ruling would be best described by the statement within West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette ; “[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein”
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 5, 2017
    I agree with the Court’s decision. I would add that although the dissent argues that the law should have been upheld because the “Federal Government has a legitimate interest in protecting the symbolic value of the American flag,” I believe that was what the majority did by protecting the right of free expression in this case. The idea of protecting the “symbolic value” of the flag is subjective, and contrary to the quote from West Virginia v. Barnette that we have seen more than once in class, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.” That kind of officially prescribed orthodoxy seems to be what the dissent is advocating for by wanting to allow the government to be the gatekeepers of free expression for how the U.S. flag should be used.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 5, 2017
    This case is very prevalent in today’s civil disagreement with groups such as ANTIFA burning flags and veterans or other citizens stopping it. With this disagreement how should the cops handle the situation of a flag being burned this case shows it would be a freedom for someone to do. But these veterans and citizens are feeling extremely offended. Would this not be considered possible hate speech? if not what is the difference? Hate speech does not only pertain to a race.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 5, 2017
    Although I personally do not agree with the idea of burning the flag as a means to protest; I do agree with the decision that was reached by the Court. The act of burning the flag can be seen as a means of protest that equates something such as a public protest. In which case, both of those acts are expressions that are guaranteed by the Freedom of Expression.
    Reply
    Patrick Scaletta
    Patrick ScalettaNov 5, 2017
    I think of a case from 353 when President Lincoln enacted a naval blockade (an act of war) without Congress’ consent. The Court ruled that the President’s actions were not unconstitutional as the president need not wait for legislative authority to protect the nation. I mention this as I am curious as to when the preservation of the nation will be an interest compelling enough to outweigh the speech rights of individuals. There may come a point where civil and social unrest may be significant enough to where speech rights must be curtailed if the moral of the nation were to deteriorate.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userNov 3, 2017
    The first question the Court should consider is whether the interest in preserving the value of that symbol is unrelated to suppression of the ideas that flag burners are trying to express. I think the answer depends, at least in part, on what those ideas are. By burning the ideal of America’s collective commitment to freedom and equality, the flag burner challanges that the majority has forsaken that commitment and that continued respect for the flag is nothing more than hypocrisy above all else.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 18, 2016
    1. Background- The 1989 Flag Protection Act was challenged in 1990 after Shawn Eichman was charged and convicted of flag desecration for burning a flag at a Capitol Hill protest. The case was consolidated with a similar appeal from Seattle.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 18, 2016
    Legal question: was the Flag Protection Act a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause?
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 14, 2015
    I personally do not agree with SCOTUS holding in this case. Although the destruction of a flag is personal expression, it shows incredible disrespect for all that the United States stands for, and to some, can be seen as offensive, if not more offensive, to speech such as that of the Ku Klux Klan. Because patriotism is involved, i believe that this kind of speech also holds a strong probability of disturbing the peace or causing unlawful action. I do, however, agree with destruction of a physical manifestion of a symbol doing no damage to the symbol itself.
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 14, 2015
    Brief posted yall.
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 14, 2015
    How is burning the flag any different from burning any other piece of personal property? That it offends others is not a reason by itself to prevent somebody’s freedom of expression; that it offends soldiers is no greater reason. The rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights are not ones that one can earn greater freedom to violate through military service.
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 14, 2015
    As we discussed in class, Burning a flag is a way of expressing your opinion in different method. It sends a different tone and message as opposed to verbally saying something. So long as it is done safely and does not threaten the safety of others, it should absolutely be allowed. This is one of those acts that although may face no legal violations, faces social ones. You will be punished by society for such actions (in the form of bad looks, no support, insults, etc) as it is very distasteful. I’ve watched videos online where protestors are walking all over the US flag and an army veteran comes up and “saves it”(which Is kind of ironic since they pledge and oath to protect the constitution, yet here attempt to suppress one’s first amendment rights). As much as I respect the service of our military, I would be happy to defend that person’s right to stomp on the flag. It makes no sense to me that someone would get angry enough to steal another’s property or punch them in the face for stomping on a flag that the “Stomper” owns, yet if that same person instead of stomping on the flag verbally said the US sucks( in much harsher terms), it would receive no more than a middle finger in response (for the most part).
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 13, 2015
    The same negligent message endorsed in Texas v. Johnson was found in this case as well. Gregory Lee Johnson also returned and continued to symbolize the disregard that is found for individuals that choose to desecrate the American flag. You have this absurd message promoted where preserving the identity of a symbol, our flag, is not more important than freely pursuing the right of degrading it. Justice Stevens made a point where his views in Texas v. Johnson applied in this case as well. I concur with his point. “The ideas of liberty and equality have been an irresistible force in motivating leaders like Patrick Henry, Susan B. Anthony, and Abraham Lincoln, schoolteachers like Nathan Hale and Booker T. Washington, the Philippine Scouts who fought at Bataan, and the soldiers who scaled the bluff at Omaha Beach. If those ideas are worth fighting for — and our history demonstrates that they are — it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection from unnecessary desecration”.
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 15, 2014
    The mistreatment of a US flag should be protected under freedom of speech
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 15, 2014
    I absolutely do not think it is respectful to burn our nations flag in a innapropriate way. I do think it is constitutional to allow the action. I compare this case similar to pledging allegance to the flag.

    -matthew j payauys
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 15, 2014
    The Supreme Court made the right call in voting in favor Eichman. While I do not agree with flag burning as the right way to protest, I do agree that people the right to do so if that is how they feel they can best express their displeasure with their country.
    -Egle S.
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 15, 2014
    It’s a symbolic gesture and I really like that the court reasons that the government cannot force people to follow its dogma or stop them from having dissenting opinions of government actions. i think if they prohibited this type of behavior we would be brainwashed like in authoritarian government’s where everyone hangs a picture of Stalin in their living room or another artifact that furthers the government’s opinion.
    -Gabriela Bedolla
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    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 15, 2014
    I understand why people burn the flag; they’re unhappy with something about America. What I found ironic is the burn the symbol of America which protects them from doing so and gives them the ability. I feel the action of the burning the flag because of something they find unjust highlights the greatness of the country to be able to do so. However, I agree, even though I disagree with the action, that it is okay to burn the flag in protest. -d. Mortimer
    Reply

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