Note: This document is the unofficial version of the Congressional Record. The printed Congressional Record produced by the Government Printing Office is the only official version.
PART CONGRESSIONAL RECORD (EXTENSIONS OF REMARKS)
DATE March 21, 1995
PAGE PAGE E649TITLE
THE SYMBOL OF OUR NATION
Mr. BEVILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the introduction of historic legislation that will finally give the American flag the recognition it deserves as a symbol of our Nation.
As many as 235 Members of the House have co-sponsored this bill to amend the U.S. E 650 Constitution to allow States to pass laws outlawing abuse of our flag. We are proud of the American flag and we want to protect it.
PAGE E649 The issue of flag desecration has been with us for too long. As you know, in 1984, a protester at the Republican National Convention in Houston was arrested for burning the flag which was against the law in Texas. Five years later the Supreme Court struck down the Texas law and the offender was acquitted. In 1990, Congress passed a bill to remedy this situation, but it too was struck down as unconstitutional. So now our only choice is to pass this legislation, amend the U.S. Constitution and allow the States to pass their own laws to correct this problem.
As a veteran, I feel particularly strong about this proposal. Many men and women throughout our Nation`s history have sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy the freedoms we now have. The flag is a symbol of this country and a tribute to those who have protected our Nation through the years. To allow individuals to desecrate this symbol for petty purposes is to cheapen the country for which it stands. I find it extremely offensive that laws cannot be passed by States to prohibit this kind of behavior.
This bill is not meant to restrict the first amendment rights guaranteed to all Americans. I strongly believe that individuals and groups must be able to speak their minds on issues that concern them. But that does not mean burning the flag. I feel flag desecration goes beyond freedom of expression. It is an abuse of the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms that great document provides.
PAGE E649 Our proposal is not a heavy-handed Government mandate. We want to give States the ability to pass the laws they deem necessary. Forty-six States have already passed resolutions which outlaw the desecration of the flag. Alabama joined these ranks in 1991. I think it is time for Congress to take the initiative to correct this situation once and for all. I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation and start the process for adding this historic amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Warren S. Apel