The Law episode 72: Texas v. Johnson
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In this 5-4 1989 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that burning an American flag was speech the government could not punish pursuant to the First Amendment. Gregory Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, participated in an anti-government protest during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, TX. The protest ended in Mr. Johnson burning an American flag in front of Dallas City Hall. He was arrested and sentenced to one year in jai. The majority of the Court held this conviction was a violation of the First Amendment. The dissent, however, said the flag was such an important symbol, they would make an exception to the Constitution for it.