The National Review’s Opposition to the Flag Burning Amendment

Let’s start with their editorial:

The Supreme Court got it wrong in 1989 and 1990, when it struck down first a state law and then a federal law banning flag-burning. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, not freedom of “expression”; and burning a flag is no more speech than nude dancing, public urination, or a barroom brawl

How incredibly stupid – burning a piece of cloth is not the same thing as punching someone in the face. Does the National Review realize that the First Amendment also protects freedom of the press? Perhaps they’ll argue that the blog and television news is not protected since neither medium relies on the printing press.

Mark Kleiman gets this issue:

The notion of writing a restriction on freedom of expression into the text of the Constitution ought to offend every patriot. To pledge allegiance to the Flag instead of “the Republic for which it stands” is the political equivalent of the sin of idolatry: confusing a symbol with its referent, to the extreme of elevating the symbol above the referent. The Bill of Rights is as central to that Republic as anything could be: surely more central than the Flag. So to deface the Bill of Rights in order to defend the Flag is political idolatry at its worst.

Mark is not as sure about the Supreme Court decision. In my view, the Court got this issue exactly right. Then again, neither Mark, I, nor the editors of the National Review have been entrusted to interpret the Constitution.

Jonah Goldberg seems to be opposed to the flag burning amendment, but I get lost in all of his weird writing. John Podhoretz is more clear, but then he adds:

But as a strictly Machiavellian matter, as a sheerly political stunt, you have to admit that it’s one of those peculiar gifts that keeps on giving. Republicans can bring it up every few years or so during an election year

At least Podhoretz is honest. The GOP treats the Constitution as a partisan toy.