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Victors in Supreme Court Flag-Burning Cases Denounce Attempt to Overturn Supreme Court Decisions and the First Amendment; Predict Wide Resistance to "Flag Amendment"
                                   Joey Johnson 213-368-6778
                               Edward Hasbrouck 415-824-0214


(9 December 1995) Spokespeople for the victors in the 1989 and 1990 Supreme Court flagburning decisions today denounced the proposal for a "Flag Consecration Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution and predicted that the Amendment would prompt widespread resistance.

"As people become aware of this amendment and what it threatens, the amendment will engender more protest and defiance of the government and its symbols, not less," according to a joint statement by the defendant in the first Supreme Court flagburning case and one of the principal organizers of the defense coalitions for the flagburners.

Gregory "Joey" Johnson (the defendant in the Supreme Court case which the Flag Amendment is intended to overturn) and Edward Hasbrouck (who was an organizer and lobbyist for the Emergency Committee to Stop the Flag Amendment and Laws), said that outlawing expressions of dissent will only further discredit the U.S. government.

"This Amendment will inspire more people to hold the U.S. government in contempt," Johnson and Hasbrouck predicted. "The largest wave of flagburnings in U.S. history came in response to the attempts to outlaw flagburning in 1989 and 1990. Those who support this Amendment must be prepared to lock up thousands of people who will defend their freedom by defying this Amendment."

Senate floor debate on the Flag Consecration Amendment began Wednesday, 12/6/95, and a Senate vote is currently scheduled for Tuesday, 12/12/95. The House has already approved the Amendment, and is likely to approve any changes by the Senate.

"The proponents of this Amendment claim the support of the public, but they are trying to avoid real public debate on the first-ever repeal of any part of the Bill of Rights," said Hasbrouck. "The more people learn about this Amendment, the more they oppose it. Some people dismiss this Amendment as a cynical game by politicians wrapping themselves in the flag. But this is no joke. This is a real attack on the right to dissent."

Hasbrouck said the low visibility of grassroots opposition to the Amendment results partly from low awareness of how close it is to passage, and partly from new but important forms which opposition is taking, such as the Flag-Burning Page on the Internet (http://www.esquilax.com/flag/), which most politicians haven't noticed.

Johnson characterized the flag amendment as "a fascist amendment, because it gives the flag only one permissible meaning and gives the government the power to punish those who says it means something else. There's all this talk of who the amendment is 'for', but who is it against? Congress wants to give a new dynamism to a sick and dying empire by attacking especially the poor, Black and Latino people, women, immigrants, the sick, the elderly, and even veterans, while at the same time demanding that we respect the government, its institutions and its symbols."

Warren S. Apel