Flag-burning amendment: one vote away

They’ve got 66 signed on in the Senate. The Judiciary Committee greenlit it yesterday; a floor vote is scheduled for later this month. If they push it through, it’s on to the states, all of which have passed non-binding resolutions in favor. According to the latest poll, 56% of the public supports the amendment, 40% oppose.

Eh. I oppose it on principle because it’s an incursion, however tiny, into free speech. But no one cares much about flag-burning anymore, even on the left; it’s a Vietnam relic, something they gave up around the time they started “supporting the troops” again in their own funny little way. The real anxiety here is over the slippery-slope potential, which, from what I can tell, is well-nigh zero. Here’s the text according to Wikipedia:

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

That’s it. If it had said “symbols of the United States” instead of “flag” I’d be worried, but there aren’t a lot of penumbras to be found in that bit of statecraft. It’s not even self-executing. It merely empowers Congress to pass a statute, which of course can be repealed by simple majority in the future should feelings change.

Long story short: peformance artists will have to squat over facsimiles of the Bill of Rights now instead of old glory. I give it about a 2 on the outrage meter.