Trump Calls For Exile Or Jail Time For Exercising First Amendment Right
In yet another early morning tweet, President-elect Donald Trump called for the loss of citizenship or 1 year in jail as punishment for burning the American flag, even though it is protected under the First Amendment.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
Its not clear what exactly prompted his morning tweet, but it’s likely he is remarking on a Fox News segment that covered the anti-Trump protest in Massachusetts where a flag was burned.
The burning of the American flag was protected as free speech under the First Amendment in two Supreme court cases: Texas v. Johnson (1989) and United States v. Eichman (1990).
The late Justice Scalia, who Trump has praised on many occasions, spoke on why he felt the burning of the American flag is rightfully protected under free speech:
“If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag — however, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged — and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government. I mean that was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress.”
“Burning the flag is a form of expression — speech doesn’t just mean written words or oral words — burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea. ‘I hate the government, the government is unjust,’ or whatever.”
President-elect Trump’s comments are especially startling to those who have been closely watching his treatment of the press. When members of the press report negative stories about him, he has said he would open up libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. He’s constantly berated the New York Times for their fact-based reporting, and even threatened to sue them.
Donald Trump’s comments portray a distinct lack of basic civic knowledge. He failed to realize that this is protected under free speech, and his wild claim of revoking citizenship as a form of punishment is even more shocking. It is very difficult for naturalized US citizens to have their citizenship revoked, and it requires a high burden of proof. Just take a look at this.
The freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy. Threats to our First Amendment rights should not be taken lightly. As the great George Washington said:
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." – George Washington