Utah Representatives Split on Party Lines on Flag Amendment

Utah Representatives Split on Party Lines on Flag Amendment

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Utah representatives split along party lines as the U.S. House voted 286 to 130 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to "prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Republican Reps. Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop voted in favor of the amendment Wednesday, while Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson voted against it.

Matheson said amending the Constitution is too drastic a step for the occasional flag-burning and cited the Supreme Court's previous rulings on the matter.

"I understand how strongly so many veterans and citizens feel about the flag, and I understand the sentiment for such an amendment," Matheson said in a news release. "But as Gen. Colin Powell has said, I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants."

The Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson in 1989 that public burning of the flag was legal and struck down 48 state laws that made publicly burning the flag a crime. A year later it also struck down a federal law, and stated that burning the flag was expressive conduct and was protected by the First Amendment.

Scott Parker, chief of staff for Bishop, said his boss "is not one that wants to amend the Constitution frequently, and he takes the issue pretty seriously,

"We feel the Founding Fathers always intended the First Amendment to protect specific speech, but the Supreme Court over the past couple of decades has expanded that definition of what speech is a little too liberally, we feel," Parker said.

Cannon said in a news release that the flag is a symbol of the country that needs to be protected.

"But more than that, it is a reminder of the sacrifice of our nation's founders and defenders. It is our ultimate icon, and when it is attacked we are all attacked," he said,

In previous flag resolution efforts, the Senate either did not pass the resolution or did not take any action.

If the resolution passes the Senate with an absolute two-thirds majority -- at least 67 votes -- it will go to the states to be ratified.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a longtime advocate of the amendment, said, "This amendment only does one thing -- restore the power of Congress to protect the flag if it chooses to do so. This was the status quo for more than 200 years until five unelected justices found an unknown constitutional right to desecrate the flag."

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, a longtime opponent of the amendment, would not vote for it this year either, said communications director Mary Jane Collipriest said.

"I think that he doesn't want to amend the Constitution to solve a non-problem," she said, adding the only time flag burning became an issue was when an amendment banning it was discussed.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast