Our democracy is strong because we tolerate all peaceful forms of expression, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel or how much we disagree. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed that the right to desecrate the flag is included in the Constitution’s protection of speech.
Flag burning and desecration is offensive precisely because it is political. Experience shows that the way to fight political expression with which one disagrees is not to outlaw it, as Congress has repeatedly sought to do, but to express disapproval.
The ACLU has led organizing efforts against legislative attempts to ban flag desecration, including fighting back recently proposed constitutional amendments in 2004, 2006, and 2011. We worked with veteran groups, religious leaders, and other Americans to highlight opposition to the amendment and lobby senators to vote down the proposals. We will continue to react quickly and forcefully to any future attempts to restrict the protections of the First Amendment.