Texans Take Note – It’s Now Okay to Damage, Mutilate, Deface and Burn Your Flags

The often obscure but powerful Texas Court of Criminal Appeals handed down its decision in State v. Johnson holding that Tex. Penal Code 42.11(a) is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The Texas statute made it a crime to damage, mutilate, deface or burn a flag and was passed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision 26 years ago that found Texas’ previous flag desecration statute to be similarly unconstitutional. Terence Johnson was prosecuted for violation of the statute when grabbed a flag from a storefront and threw it into the street.  There was no evidence that the act was politically motivated as Johnson claimed he did it because he was mad.  The Court looked beyond motivation and held that the statute was unconstitutional on its face because it criminalized expressive activity that is protected as free speech under the First Amendment.  The decision is a victory for free speech advocates.  As the flag is a hot button issue for the right, expect a host of bloviators who know nothing about constitutional law taking aim at the Court for protecting the free speech rights of Texas citizens. And while Red has to except former Supreme Court Clerk and Sen. Ted Cruz (TP-Texas) from those who know nothing about constitutional law, Red would be shocked if he is not leading the charge.

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