Texas V. Johnson 1989

Subject: Law
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 337
Topics: Citizenship, Crime, Freedom of Speech, Government

The ruling on the Texas v. Johnson case in 1989 was a case that received mixed opinions in regard to the interpretation of the first amendment. Gregory Johnson had burned the American flag during protests in Texas. Johnson was burning the flag while protesting against the policies that Ronald Reagan had introduced. He was later arrested and charged for violating a statute in Texas that prevented despoliation of an object of honor such as the flag and if the action would incite others to be angered (Beal, 2012). However, the case was appealed and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, According to the ruling, the burning of the flag was protected under the First Amendment since it was considered symbolic speech (Beal, 2012). The main issue in the case is whether the ruling was in line with the considerations of the first amendment on free speech.

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From a personal opinion, the Supreme Court ruling was right and Johnson was protected under the First Amendment. When Johnson burnt the flag, he was practicing his right of freedom of speech as an American citizen. Even though it was not verbal, the flag burning was symbolic since he was making a point during the protest. Additionally, there was no way that his action of burning the flag would incite any form of anger since the incitement to anger is usually based from a viewpoint (Grosskopf & Mondak, 2008). This means therefore that individuals who are punished by the law based on viewpoint would mean suppression of free speech, which is against what is provided in the First Amendment on freedom of speech. Therefore, the Supreme Court was right in its decision to free Johnson.

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  1. Beal, R. (2012). The Art of Statutory Construction: Texas Style. Baylor L. Rev., 64, 339.
  2. Grosskopf, A., & Mondak, J. J. (2008). Do attitudes toward specific Supreme Court decisions matter? The impact of Webster and Texas v. Johnson on public confidence in the Supreme Court. Political Research Quarterly, 51(3), 633-654.
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