Although the Supreme Court has declared flag burning to be a constitutionally protected form of free speech, Donald Trump said Tuesday he still wants to make the practice illegal.
“Flag burning is completely ridiculous and I think you know that and I think the vast majority of Americans would agree,” his spokesman Jason Miller said in contentious interview with CNN Tuesday when he was asked about Trump’s tweet.
“But legal,” host Chris Cuomo interjected.
“Flag burning should be illegal, it’s completely despicable” Miller continued.
It’s not known what inspired Trump’s condemnation of flag burning, or whether he will call on Congress to attempt a new law banning it.
While the Supreme Court has upheld flag burning, Trump will have at least one appointment to that body and has a chance to alter the court’s ideological direction.
Civil liberties groups denounced Trump’s flag burning statement, especially his suggestion that offenders could lose citizenship.
“The idea that the government could not only censor someone for engaging in political speech, but actually revoke a protester’s U.S. citizenship as a punishment for political speech is unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American,” said Lee Rowland, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said there was a bipartisan consensus that flag burning was offensive, but also that it’s protected under the First Amendment. “This is not the first thing the president-elect has said or tweeted that President Obama disagrees with,” Earnest said.
Twitter had a range of views, many of them disagreeing with the president-elect
“It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”
– Justice Kennedy, 1989 pic.twitter.com/ldPDJNQgjN
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) November 29, 2016
I pledged allegiance to the flag every morning inside an internment camp. I would never burn one, but I’d die to protect the right to do so. https://t.co/O5ecSQkyC2
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 29, 2016
Trump’s “ideal” Supreme Court Justice Scalia in 2012 on CNN discussed how flag burning was “a form of expression” protected by 1st Amendment pic.twitter.com/58orl41c4G
— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) November 29, 2016
Principled conservative justices like Scalia & Kennedy joined 5-4 majority holding 1st Am protects even flag burners
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) November 29, 2016
Mitch McConnell on flag burning: “People like that pose little harm to our country. But tinkering with our First Amendment might.”
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) November 29, 2016
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 29, 2016
Nobody should burn the American flag, but our Constitution secures our right to do so. No president is allowed to burn the First Amendment. https://t.co/nVkq6WcbHV
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 29, 2016