President-elect Donald Trump sent out an early-morning tweet Tuesday musing that burning the American flag should result in jail time or “loss of citizenship.”
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
It is unclear what prompted the message.
Flag burning is a protected act of free speech under the U.S. Constitution. In Texas v. Johnson, a 1989 ruling, the Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the American flag that were enforced by 48 states. A law passed the same year by Congress making it a federal crime to desecrate the flag was also struck down by the Supreme Court.
A constitutional amendment to ban flag burning or desecration has been proposed multiple times in the years since, but failed to pass, most recently in 2006.
Despite this precedent, Trump spokesperson Jason Miller remained unconvinced by CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s insistence that flag burning is a “protected constitutional right” during a Tuesday appearance on “New Day.”
“Can we agree on that?” Cuomo asked.
“No, we completely disagree,” Miller replied.
Miller repeatedly said that such a “despicable” act “should be illegal” and tried to pivot to a discussion of Trump’s cabinet appointees.
“You have to defend what is legal in this country under the Constitution. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that it’s not legal, it’s not right for somebody. What do you want this country to be, only what you like? Only what President-elect Trump likes?” Cuomo asked.
“Flag burning should be illegal,” Miller said again, insisting there was a “big difference” between protecting the First Amendment and burning the American flag.