Happy Flag Day 2018

Today is “Flag Day,” which according to one source “commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.”

Some legal tidbits about Old Glory:

  • The U.S. Flag Code, codified at Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code (4 U.S.C. § 1 et seq), states, for example, that the flag: “should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise;” “should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free;” “should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery;” and “should never be used for advertising purposes.” 4 U.S.C. § 8. (Some didn’t get the memo.)
  • Statutory prohibitions on desecration (including burning) of the flag (e.g., the Flag Protection Act of 1989, 18 U.S.C. § 700) violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and are therefore unconstitutional. See. e.g., United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990); Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989).
  • A school may not require its students to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance or punish any student for his/her failure to do so. West Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
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