Friday, December 2, 2016

Flag Burning

"Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror."
--V (V for Vendetta)

Recent statements by Donald Trump help us illustrate a recent point. Commenting on recent protests that included burning the American flag, the president-elect tweeted that flag burners should be jailed or perhaps even have their US citizenship revoked.

Under the constitutional government developed by our founding ancestors, what can a president legally do to people who burn flags?

Assuming that the flag is the burner's property and the act of burning does not endanger others, then the answer is nothing. Not a damn thing. The President of the United States cannot act like a king.

Burning an American flag under protest is a form of speech--speech which is protected from government interference under the First Amendment.

Under the original central government design, the best Trump could do is to drum up support for a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning--a tall order indeed.

Of course, what gets people nervous about Trump's rhetoric is that presidential power has expanded far beyond original intent. Thus, when a modern president states that he wants to ban speech, take away guns, suspend due process, et al., there is cause for alarm as he may be able to get away with discretionary action.

And guess what? We the people have ourselves to blame. We have sat idly by as presidents since the time of Lincoln have been unconstitutionally assimilating discretionary power aimed at trampling our natural rights.

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