First Amendment Phony: Trump Threatens to Revoke Flag Burners' Citizenship

Just three weeks after winning the election, Donald Trump tweeted a terrifying proposal for American flag burners to have their citizenship revoked. 


The proposal goes against federal law from a 1989 Supreme Court case, overseen by none other than the late Antonin Scalia. Burning a flag is legal and constitutes "symbolic free speech," the court's majority ruled in Texas v. Johnson (1989). But the origins of that case now seem like a precursor to the sentiment of the anti-Trump protests sweeping the nation since the election.

In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested in Dallas after burning an American flag outside of the Republican Nation Convention as Ronald Reagan delivered his GOP nomination speech inside. The activist was protesting Reagan's policies and argued the action was protected by the First Amendment. After taking his case to the Supreme Court, the court ruled in his favor

"His actions would have been useless unless the flag was a very good symbol for what he intended to show contempt for," Scalia said. "His action does not make it any less a symbol."

This isn't the first time Trump has contradicted the U.S. Constitution and settled law. From his threats to journalists to his proposed Muslim ban to view of torture, Trump has some heavy reading to do before he takes office. 

Author Anand Giridharadas spoke with MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and tweeted a brief explanation in response to Trump's statment: 

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