In a July 18, 1989, speech on the Senate floor, Biden said the flag is “a national symbol of unity and we need unity in this country because we are so diverse. Symbols are important. . . . We have a symbol, unlike the court’s inability to recognize it, a symbol that is needed to unite this nation, this diverse nation, a symbol is the flag.” Under Biden’s legislation, anyone who mutilated, defaced, burned or trampled upon a U.S. flag would be fined as much as $1,000 or sent to prison for up to a year — or both.

Biden said he would also support a constitutional amendment to make flag burning illegal, but that his measure was a quicker means of achieving the same end…

As late as 2006, near the end of his 36 years in the Senate, he voted in favor of a measure that would have imposed fines of as much as $100,000 and a year in prison for anyone who would “intentionally threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons by burning, or causing to be burned, a flag of the United States.”