Friday, July 27, 2007


..Or Constitutionally Protected Expression?

Here's a story from the Citizen-Times of Asheville, North Carolina.
A couple who said they were protesting the state of the country by flying the U.S. flag upside down with signs pinned to it found themselves in jail following a scuffle with a deputy Wednesday morning.

Mark and Deborah Kuhn were arrested on two counts of assault on a government employee, resisting arrest and a rarely used charge, desecrating an American flag, all misdemeanors. The Kuhns were released from custody Wednesday afternoon...

...State law prohibits anyone from knowingly mutilating, defiling, defacing or trampling the U.S. or North Carolina flags. Lt. Randy Sorrells of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office said the Kuhns desecrated the flag by pinning signs to it, not by flying it upside down.

An upside-down flag typically is flown as a distress signal. The Kuhns said they flew it this way not out of disrespect but to symbolize the state of the country.

The thing is, the flag desecration law is so little used that the Citizen-Times reports in a separate story, “we don’t even keep a statistic on it.
Charges against an Asheville couple mark the first use of a 90-year-old North Carolina law on desecration of the American flag since the Vietnam War era, a state court official said Thursday.

Even then, police used the law only two times. Back-to-back U.S. Supreme Court decisions since then make it unconstitutional, civil rights experts said.

Having been ruled unconstitutional twice, why are they still enforcing this law? I don't suppose it could have anything to do with the fact that the Kuhn's are using their first amendment right to free speech to express their disagreement with the regime of George W. Bush. There is a counterclaim here as well.
The Kuhns said they were assaulted by the deputy.

Deborah Kuhn told a 911 dispatcher that Scarborough “has broken into our home and is violating our rights.”

Good point, because to me it seems that the Kuhns have a better case against the Deputy (who is now facing an internal review over his part in this) than vice versa. One other thing, for future reference. I'm not an attorney or anything, but don't you think it would be a good idea if, when a law is found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, it should then be taken off the books altogether?

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