Trump Urges Legislation For Flag Burning To Be Federal Offense With One Year In Jail
President Trump told supporters at his Saturday rally in Tulsa that he wants to make the act of burning the American flag a federal offense punishable by up to one year in prison.
“Two days ago, leftist protesters in Portland, Oregon ripped down a statue of George Washington and wrapped in an American flag, and set the American flag on fire,” the president said according to Forbes.
While introducing the comments Trump pointed to Oklahoma’s two Republican senators in attendance, Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, and said: “We ought to come up with legislation that if you burn the American flag, you go to jail for one year.”
“They talk about freedom of speech and I’m a big believer in freedom of speech, but that’s desecration, that’s a terrible thing,” he added, referencing ongoing protests.
Currently, burning an American flag is considered constitutionally-protected free speech under the First Amendment, based on the last time the US Supreme Court ruled on the matter in a 1989 decision.
Recall, however, that late last year a shockingly harsh sentence was handed down by an Iowa court after 30-year old Adolfo Martinez ripped down a gay pride rainbow flag from the front of a church and then burned it.
Martinez received the maximum sentence due, an astounding 16 years in prison, in part due to his status as a habitual offender with two prior felonies. He had told local media that he destroyed the flag because he despises homosexuality, according to the Washington Examiner.
Critics point out that there should not be such selective interpretation of which flags are allowed to be burned under Bill of Rights protections and which can’t.
Trump’s weekend statement calling for flag-burning to be a federal offense wasn’t the first.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
In 2016 he said exactly the same thing in a tweet, calling for a year in jail or “perhaps loss of citizenship”.