Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Texas v. Johnson

Case Name: Texas v. Johnson

Year: 1989

Result: 5-4, favor Johnson

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment I, Freedom of Expression

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Liberties

Significance/Precedent: Texas did not have the right to outlaw flag burning as this violated the First Amendment. Even though the majority of people found flag burning to be offensive and agreed with the law, that did not triumph Johnson's constitutional rights.

Quote from Majority Opinion: "Johnson was not...prosecuted for the expression of just any idea; he was prosecuted for his expression of dissatisfaction with the policies of this country, expression situated at the core of our First Amendment values...If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

Summary of the Dissent: The dissent believed that burning the American flag was harmful and states should be able to regulate this action. They believed that allowing flag burning damaged the idea of unity and that because the American flag is a symbol of the country it should be more protected than ordinary things.
Quote: "Uncritical extension of constitutional protection to the burning of the flag risks the frustration of the very purpose for which organized governments are instituted."

Six-word Summary: The states cannot outlaw flag burning

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