Texas V. Johnson

By: Miracle and Morgan

Issue

In 1984 Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag from a Texas statue in protest against Reagan's administration policies. Due to this he was sentenced to one year in prison and had to pay a $2,000 fine. The main issue was his Constitutional right in the First Amendment violated because it states we have 'symbolic speech'. The case was to determine whether the burning of the flag was a symbol of his 'free speech'.

Decision

The burning of the American flag was considered legal and protected under the expressive content of the first amendment. Although some people may find it offensive, it doesn't justify that a crime was committed and needs a court case. Its unfair to suppress someones freedom of speech. The ruling was (7-3) with majority rule according to Brennan they agreed with Johnson; flag burning constitutes a form of "symbolic speech".

Impact

The impact of the case led to the acceptance of flag desecration. it is now socially acceptable and no longer view as civil disobedience. It also shows that the Government lacks the power to control the limitations of ones 'free speech'.