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Gregory Lee Johnson's Freedom Court Case Essay

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The United States first amendment states, congress cannot pass a law prohibiting a citizen’s freedom of speech. In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag to protest against Reagan during the republican national convention. He was arrested and charged with abuse of an item if the action were to provoke anger in others. Texas court tried and convicted Johnson, he appealed claiming that his behavior was protected by the first amendment. The Supreme Court agreed to hear his case. The issue was whether flag burning compromises emblematic speech secured by the first amendment.
There were three arguments drafted from the proposed question “Is flag burning protected as symbolic speech by the first amendment?” (US Courts). One of the arguments included, “ can the government prohibit the act of flag burning as an infringement on the free speech clause of the first amendment,” (US Courts). the affirmative side argued that the first amendment indeed does protect against symbolic speech but only certain situations pertain to this circumstance. They also claimed that even if the flag was personally owned the government still has a valid reason to protect this object due to what it embodies. Their philosophy was the level of symbolic speech needs to be determined in order to draw the line between criminal behavior and freedom of speech. The opposing argument to this question explains that flag burning is protected by the first amendment even if it’s privately owned. They also state that the government cannot stop flag burning as a form of protest if it does not destroy public and/or the property of others. Another argument involved with this case was,” Should flag burning as symbolic speech be prohibited as an exceptio...


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...ar issue came about in the case the United States versus Eichman. In 1989 (as a result to Johnson’s case) the United States passed the Flag Protection Act. This act made it a crime to burn the American flag unless it was properly disposed of due to damage. The Supreme Court ruled this case exactly the same because it resulted in the same issue that freedom of speech cannot be allowed based on the circumstance but should exist in all viewpoints from every aspect. (Oyez). The fault in both cases was that the first amendment cannot exist sometimes, it has to exist all the
Time that’s why I agree with the Supreme Court ruling and this is how this court case helped society today.



Works Cited

1. Texas v. Johnson. No. 88-155. Supreme Ct. of the US. 21 Jun. 1989. Web.
2. United states v. Eichman. No. 89-1433. Supreme Ct. of the US. 11 Jun. 1990. Web.



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