Citizens Flag Alliance Seeks Constitution Amendment to Protect the U.S. Flag

Sep 3rd, 2016

The Citizens Flag Alliance is a national, nonprofit organization. It was formed in 1994 with the goal of passing a constitutional amendment that would return the right to protect the American flag from desecration. To date, over 140 organizations have joined the organization.




History of Flag Desecration Laws and Lawsuits


From the late 1800s, there were no laws that protected the American flag. Attempts to pass federal legislation failed. As a result, states began enacting their own laws that prohibited desecration of the national flag. By 1932, all states had laws protecting the flag. In 1968, the Federal Flag Desecration Law making it illegal to publicly mutilate, deface, defile, burn or trample the U.S. flag was enacted.


Numerous criminal conviction cases made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1980 and again in 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that state flag protection laws were unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment given citizens the right to freedom of expression. As a result, the 1968 Federal Flag Desecration Law was also found to be unconstitutional.


For more information, read our blog “Why it is Legal to Disrespect the United States Flag”.


Actions of the Citizens Flag Alliance


Since 1994, the Citizens Flag Alliance states on its website that “the amendment itself would not protect the flag if passed. It would be the decision of the people through their elected representatives to decide if a law should be passed to provide the protection.” This amendment, if enacted, would have the effect of allowing the citizens of the United States to decide whether it wants a law enacted that would protect the American flag.




Legislation to amend the constitution has been proposed almost every year since 1990. The bills have failed every session, even though a majority of the legislators supported the legislation. In addition, the Citizens Flag Alliance has conducted surveys over the years that indicate that a majority of American citizens also support the legislation.


Legislative Status


Representative Steve Womack (R-AR-3), introduced a proposal to amend the “Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit desecration of the flag of the United States”. The proposal was referred to the Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee for consideration on January 12, 2015. An identical bill was proposed in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary on July 30, 2015. To date, the bill has a total of 40 cosponsors and has failed to move out of Committee.


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