Timeline of the flag of the United States

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Timeline of the flag of the United States

The following is a timeline of the flag of the United States.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flag of the United States</span> National flag

The national flag of the United States, often referred to as the American flag or the U.S. flag, consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton, referred to as the union and bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows, where rows of six stars alternate with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 U.S. states, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain, which they obtained in their victory in the American Revolutionary War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">First Amendment to the United States Constitution</span> 1791 amendment limiting government restriction of civil rights

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws that regulate an establishment of religion, or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), is a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court interpreting the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court held that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action". Specifically, the Court struck down Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute, because that statute broadly prohibited the mere advocacy of violence. In the process, Whitney v. California (1927) was explicitly overruled, and Schenck v. United States (1919), Abrams v. United States (1919), Gitlow v. New York (1925), and Dennis v. United States (1951) were overturned.

United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court case that by a 5–4 decision invalidated a federal law against flag desecration as a violation of free speech under the First Amendment. It was argued together with the case United States v. Haggerty. It built on the opinion handed down in the Court's decision the prior year in Texas v. Johnson (1989), which invalidated on First Amendment grounds a Texas state statute banning flag burning.

The Flag Desecration Amendment is a proposed addition to the Constitution of the United States that would allow the U.S. Congress to prohibit by statute and provide punishment for the physical "desecration" of the flag of the United States. The concept of flag desecration continues to provoke a heated debate over protecting a national symbol, preserving free speech, and upholding the liberty said to be represented by that national symbol. While the proposal has been passed by the two-thirds majority required in the House of Representatives several times, it has not passed the Senate by the same super-majority and has often not come to a vote in the Senate despite its introduction several times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flag desecration</span> Method of protest or insult

Flag desecration is the desecration of a flag, violation of flag protocol, or various acts that intentionally destroy, damage, or mutilate a flag in public. In the case of a national flag, such action is often intended to make a political point against a country or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding methods of destruction or forbidding particular uses ; such laws may distinguish between the desecration of the country's own national flag and the desecration of flags of other countries. Some countries have also banned the desecration of all types of flags from inside the country to other country flags.

Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), is a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in which the Court held, 5–4, that burning the Flag of the United States was protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as doing so counts as symbolic speech and political speech.

Symbolic speech is a legal term in United States law used to describe actions that purposefully and discernibly convey a particular message or statement to those viewing it. Symbolic speech is recognized as being protected under the First Amendment as a form of speech, but this is not expressly written as such in the document. One possible explanation as to why the Framers did not address this issue in the Bill of Rights is because the primary forms for both political debate and protest in their time were verbal expression and published word, and they may have been unaware of the possibility of future people using non-verbal expression. Symbolic speech is distinguished from pure speech, which is the communication of ideas through spoken or written words or through conduct limited in form to that necessary to convey the idea.

United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court, ruling that a criminal prohibition against burning a draft card did not violate the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. Though the court recognized that O'Brien's conduct was expressive as a protest against the Vietnam War, it considered the law justified by a significant government interest unrelated to the suppression of speech and was tailored towards that end.

Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in which the Court held, 7–2, that a California statute banning red flags was unconstitutional because it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In the case, Yetta Stromberg was convicted for displaying a red flag daily in the youth camp for children at which she worked, and was charged in accordance with California law. Chief Justice Charles Hughes wrote for the seven-justice majority that the California statute was unconstitutional, and therefore Stromberg's conviction could not stand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flag Protection Act</span> American law to prevent desecration of the national flag

Reacting to protests during the Vietnam War era, the United States 90th Congress enacted Public Law 90-381, later codified as 18 U.S.C. 700, et. seq., and better known as the Flag Protection Act of 1968. It was an expansion to nationwide applicability of a 1947 law previously restricted only to the District of Columbia.

Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in which the Court held, 5–4, that any state statute banning cross burning on the basis that it constitutes prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Such a provision, the Court argued, blurs the distinction between proscribable "threats of intimidation" and the Ku Klux Klan's protected "messages of shared ideology". In the case, three defendants were convicted in two separate cases of violating a Virginia statute against cross burning. However, cross-burning can be a criminal offense if the intent to intimidate is proven. It was argued by former Solicitor General of Virginia, William Hurd.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flag Protection Act of 2005</span> Act proposed in US in 2005

The Flag Protection Act of 2005 was a proposed United States federal law introduced in the United States Senate at the 109th United States Congress on October 24, 2005, by Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and co-sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Later co-sponsors included Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.).

Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a New York state law making it a crime "publicly [to] mutilate, deface, defile, or defy, trample upon, or cast contempt upon either by words or act [any flag of the United States]" was, in part, unconstitutional because it prohibited speech against the flag. The Court left for a later day the question of whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional to prohibit, without reference to the utterance of words, the burning of the flag.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gregory Lee Johnson</span> American activist (born 1956)

Gregory Lee "Joey" Johnson is an American political activist, known for his advocacy of flag desecration. His burning of the flag of the United States in a political demonstration during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas, led to his role as defendant in the landmark United States Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989).

Tax protesters in the United States advance a number of constitutional arguments asserting that the imposition, assessment and collection of the federal income tax violates the United States Constitution. These kinds of arguments, though related to, are distinguished from statutory and administrative arguments, which presuppose the constitutionality of the income tax, as well as from general conspiracy arguments, which are based upon the proposition that the three branches of the federal government are involved together in a deliberate, on-going campaign of deception for the purpose of defrauding individuals or entities of their wealth or profits. Although constitutional challenges to U.S. tax laws are frequently directed towards the validity and effect of the Sixteenth Amendment, assertions that the income tax violates various other provisions of the Constitution have been made as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States</span> When cases are heard without going through lower courts

The Supreme Court of the United States has original jurisdiction in a small class of cases described in Article III, section 2, of the United States Constitution and further delineated by statute.

Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405 (1974), was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with non-verbal free speech and its protections under the First Amendment. The Court, in a per curiam decision, ruled that a Washington state law that banned the display of the American flag adorned with additional decorations was unconstitutional as it violated protected speech. The case established the Spence test that has been used by the judicial system to determine when non-verbal speech may be sufficiently expressive for First Amendment protections.


  1. 1 2 Marc Leepson, "Five myths about the American flag", The Washington Post , June 12, 2011, p. B2.
  2. Congress, Joint Committee on Printing (1989). Our Flag. Darby, PA: Diane Pub Co. p. 3. ISBN   978-0-7881-0219-6.
  3. "Journals of the Continental Congress, 17741789, 8:464".