American Desecration Or Legal Articulation? Essay

1037 words - 5 pages

According to Landmark cases of the U.S Supreme Court, in 1984 a gentleman by the name of Gregory Lee Johnson was charged with desecrating a greatly respected object (the American Flag). His Sentence consisted of one year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Johnson was not happy with this ruling and appealed his case with two further Texas courts. Johnson’s second appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest court in Texas that hears criminal cases, overturned his conviction, saying that the State, consistent with the First Amendment, could not punish Johnson for burning the flag in these circumstances (http://www.streetlaw.org/en/Page/674/Background_summary__questions_). . ...view middle of the document...

“Buckley v. Valeo, was a case in which a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States struck down several provisions in the 1974 Amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act, a law that limited campaign expenditures, independent expenditures by individuals and groups, and expenditures by a candidate from personal funds. It introduced the idea that money counts as speech, and eliminated any previous restraints on unlimited spending in US election campaigns. The Court upheld the provision which sets limits on individuals' campaign contributions”( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckley_v._Valeo). Since money changing hands is an action done with our hands and is considered freedom of speech with no limits, then flag burning too done with our hands is also freedom of speech and therefore has no limits.
Protecting individual rights from government interference is the second reason Johnson is not guilty of American Flag desecration. Civil rights fall into the category of protecting individual rights from government interference. Civil rights include rights and freedoms that protect individuals from unjustified government meddling and safeguards a person’s ability to engage in civil and political interests without discrimination or repression. In short, a person must be able to display his/her personal individuality without government meddling.
Lastly, protecting individual rights from state interference is the final reason Johnson is not guilty of American Flag desecration. Johnson was practicing his religious freedoms during this flag burning protest and according to the justice.gov website Thomas Jefferson states “the First Amendment builds a wall of separation between church and state.” This proves that under the first amendment the state cannot rule on matters related to the church. Thus, concluding that Johnson’s religious flag burning is of no concern for the state.
This case provides a compelling argument for Gregory Lee Johnson’s innocence. Gregory Lee Johnson is clearly not-guilty in the burning of the American flag in front of the city hall. His one year lock-up sentence must be...

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