Despite his professed admiration for the late justice Antonin Scalia who was opposed to flag burning but also felt it was protected by the First Amendment, President-Elect Trump wants to jail flag burners and take away their citizenship.
In another of his Twitter rants, the President-Elect has come out against flag burners and CNN in the past day.
His complaint about CNN is that the news organization has called him out on his claim that he would have won the popular vote (instead of being 2.3 million votes behind Sec. Clinton). There is zero evidence of millions of illegal immigrants voting as many of Mr. Trump’s supporters and most Republicans agree, yet he began saying that there was massive voter fraud despite his winning the election. This all started, not coincidentally, at the same time that Jill Stein of the Green Party launched the perfectly legal and reasonable effort for a recount in several states with the express intention not of winning herself or even defeating Mr. Trump, but merely of proving there either was or wasn’t any vote tampering.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
(A quick note here, because the U.S. is a Republic, not a democracy, and therefore Presidents are elected not by popular vote but by the Electoral College (or the House of Representatives if there is a tie) which can vote any way the electors want despite being pledged to certain candidates, Mr. Trump really isn’t the President Elect until he gets 270 electoral votes on December 19. Until then he isn’t President Elect but the presumptive President Elect.)
Mr. Trump is, for some reason, vehemently opposed to a recount despite the fact that during the campaign he hinted strongly that he would demand a recount if he lost. This is even more bizarre because there is virtually no chance that any recount would even cost him one state, let alone the 270 votes needed to become president.
It’s like the President Elect isn’t happy unless he is punching at something, even if it is fog.
His latest tweets include this one, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps the loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
First, the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that flag burning was legitimate free speech. Second, in 1958 the Supreme Court ruled against loss of citizenship as a form of punishment for criminal activity.
As with many of the President Elect’s rants against the media and others who publicly oppose him, the actions he proposes would require the repeal of the First Amendment of the Constitution. That is unlikely to happen since it is the same clause which protects freedom of religion.
Of course, people can still be against flag burning as part of their own free speech rights, such as Justice Scalia who famously stated in 2015, “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I am not king.”
Fortunately, as Justice Scalia was quick to point out, The Constitution protects not just rich bankers and real estate tycoons, but also people who have long hair and beards (such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft), whether or not they wore sandals.