- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2019

President Trump pledged his support Saturday for updating the U.S. Constitution to let Congress outlaw burning the American flag.

“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “A no brainer!”

Mr. Daines, Montana Republican, offered the proposed constitutional amendment on Friday, Flag Day, two years since launching a similar effort that ultimately failed to gain steam.

The Supreme Court has found that flag burning is a form of free speech and accordingly protected under the First Amendment, effectively requiring the Constitution to be amended in order for Congress to have the authority to decide otherwise. 

Amendments can be added to the Constitution through one of two routes, each ultimately requiring the support of most states. In the first, two-thirds of both the House and Senate must agree on a proposal and then have it ratified by three-fourths of the states. In the second, two-thirds of the nation’s state legislatures have to call a convention to propose changes to the Constitution, which would subsequently require three-fourths of the states. 

In either scenario, Congress chooses whether ratification is to happen by state legislatures or via special ratifying conventions called by the state legislatures. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, only the 21st, which repealed Prohibition, was done by state conventions.

Mr. Daines previously said his proposed amendment would “provide Congress with the authority to prohibit burning of the American flag.”

“Our United States flag is a timeless symbol of liberty that tells the story of America, the story of our enduring pursuit of freedom,” he said Friday. “Remembering the sacrifices of all who carried its colors into battle, our nation should always render the flag the honor and dignity it is due.”

Mr. Trump has publicly condemned flag burning since before taking office, meanwhile.

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag,” Mr. Trump tweeted in 2016, adding: “if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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