The proposed Constitutional Amendment that will not die is up for a vote today in the Senate:
Just in time for the election season, the Senate is plunging into a volatile (and some say cynical) issue for the first time in six years: whether to amend the Constitution so that Congress can ban desecration of the American flag.
Even though many voters may be hard-pressed to remember the last time they saw Old Glory being torched, the Senate will devote a good chunk of the week to the proposed amendment, which appears to be within a vote or two of passage. Adoption will require a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes if all 100 senators are present. In 2000, the amendment fell four votes short.
The House embraced the bill last year, 286 to 130. Should the Senate follow suit, three-fourths of the states would have to ratify it to make it the 28th Amendment.
Debate began yesterday, with senators recalling that the Supreme Court in 1989 ruled that flag-burning is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. The ruling did not sit well with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who told an empty Senate chamber yesterday: “Government exists because of the people. . . . Yet for too long, some unelected judges have mistakenly concluded that it is the courts that have exclusive dominion over the Constitution.”
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) differed. “The danger of this amendment is that it would strike at the values the flag represents and the rights that have made this nation a vibrant democratic republic in which we have enjoyed freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom to think as individuals,” he said.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said the GOP is pushing the amendment to fire up its base this fall. “The real issue isn’t the protection of the American flag,” he said. “It’s the protection of the Republican majority.”
Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) cast the debate in loftier terms. “Many Americans have come to see the flag as a sacred symbol of our nation and its values,” he said. “Those who dislike American values have the right to express their opinions even when they are offensive. But I do not believe that the right to desecrate a symbol like our flag belongs in the same category.”
What a bunch of political hogwash. I’ve expressed my own opinions on this issue before, specifically in this post, and really don’t see anything else to add except the observation that the Senate must have solved the budget problem, immigration, the War on Terror, and every other problem facing America if it has time to deal with something as meaningless as this Amendment.
Update: One clarification, the Amendment will be voted on this week, but not necessarily today. All those Senators need time to bloviate after all.
Update 2: Brad Warbiany has his own message for the Congresscritters forcing this Amendment of the Bill of Rights on us:
I will not fly an American flag when our own government turns it into a meaningless symbol. Our flag is a symbol of the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and this amendment spits on those freedoms.
Instead, Brad suggests flying this symbol of liberty:
Update 3: Matt Barr identifies what the real problem is:
This blog is getting sick and tired of Congress trying to solve actual problems ineffectively; whoever came up with the idea that whatever’s actually wrong with your life can be solved by a bill originating in the House of Representatives ought to himself be set on fire, but there it is. It’s too much for this blog to take when Congress starts solving problems that don’t actually exist, in ways that will be utterly ineffective, and that take a black Sharpie — the thickpointed kind — to the First Amendment.
The answer, of course, is that there’s an election coming up and this is an easy mom-and-apple-pie vote for policitians who will be able to go back to Podunk and hand out literature that says “He Saved The Flag”, not mentioning, of course, that this same Congressman also voted to waste billions of dollars and chip away at our freedom even more.