Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donald Trump wants to throw flag-burners in jail, but technically South Carolina has an old law that would do just that

S.C. law also protects the Confederate flag from desecration

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 4:26 PM

The Supreme Court of the United States has said that flag burning is constitutionally-protected free speech, but in the eyes of President-elect Donald Trump and the South Carolina Code of Laws, flag-burners could be thrown in jail.

After a nighttime tweetstorm that included reposting a 16-year old's hot take on CNN's political coverage, the president-elect posted at 7:55 a.m. that "there must be consequences" for burning the American flag, a long-debated form of political dissent. Trump suggested "loss of citizenship or year in jail" for offenders.

click to enlarge WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1989 that flag-burning is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution with opposition from liberal justices. At the time, nearly every state had laws criminalizing flag desecration. Some, including South Carolina, still do. South Carolina's law, last changed in 1962, prohibits acts that "publicly mutilate, deface, defile, defy, jeer at, trample upon or cast contempt, either by word or act" the flag. Violation carries a $100 fine or 30 days in jail plus a $50 penalty for each offense.

The South Carolina law is one of a few in the nation that also protect the Confederate flag from desecration.

The reason why a law that would not stand up in court remains on the books could be practical or political, says College of Charleston political science assistant professor Claire Wofford. The laws stick around until a legislator takes the initiative to repeal them, "so sometimes it's just easier to leave it on the books and ignore it," says Wofford. Or it could be more thought out than that. Wofford: "Sometimes legislators take a quiet (or not so quiet) pleasure in the symbolic rejecting of what SCOTUS has done."

The last time a Constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning came before Congress a decade ago, South Carolina's entire delegation voted in favor of it (House, Senate). Congressman Jim Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are the only remaining members of that delegation.


Tags: , , , , , ,


Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

Classified Listings

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2016, Charleston City Paper   RSS