About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

19 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 679 (2002)
Political Symbols in Two Constitutional Orders: The Flag Desecration Decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the German Federal Constitutional Court

handle is hein.journals/ajicl19 and id is 695 raw text is: POLITICAL SYMBOLS IN TWO CONSTITUTIONAL ORDERS: THE
FLAG DESECRATION DECISIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
SUPREME COURT AND THE GERMAN FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL
COURT
Ute Krildewagen'
Symbolism is a primitive but effective way of communicating
ideas. The use of an emblem or flag to symbolize some system,
idea, institution, or personality, is a short cut from mind to mind.
Causes and nations, political parties, lodges and ecclesiastical
groups seek to knit the loyalty of their followings to a flag or
banner, a color or design.2
I. INTRODUCTION
A symbol is a sign or representation, suggesting an idea or quality as by
resemblance or by convention.' Daily life is saturated with symbols of all kinds:
graphical, audible and textual symbols, gestures, facial expressions, clothes and
odors. Symbols often operate on a subconscious or emotional level. This might
explain why the treatment of political symbols such as flags or national anthems
in constitutional jurisprudence sometimes has aroused immense passion.4
A recent example is the United States Supreme Court (Supreme Court)
decision in Texas v. Johnson.' By a close five to four vote, the Court held that the
conviction of Gregory Lee Johnson for burning the American flag in political
protest violated his First Amendment right to free speech. In the public uproar
that followed the Court's decision, a proposal to amend the United States
Constitution failed and Congress enacted a federal Flag Protection Act, which the
Supreme Court invalidated in the decision United States v. Eichman.6 On March
7, 1990, three months before the Supreme Court handed down the Eichman
decision, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht)
1. Attorney at Law, California and New York; Dr. iur. Candidate, University of
Cologne; LL.M., University of California at Berkeley 2000; Erstes Staatsexamen (J.D.
equivalent), University of Cologne 1998.
2. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624,632 (1943).
3. See WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH
LANGUAGE 2316 (Philip Babcock ed., 1986).
4. See also Anerkennung fir das Sonnenbanner, FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE
ZErrUNG, May 19, 1999, at 9; Kathryn Tolbert, A Pledge ofAllegiance, WASH. POST, Mar.
2, 2000, at A13 for the controversy around the so-called flag-and-anthem bill passed in
Japan in 1999.
5. 491 U.S. 397 (1989).
6. 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most