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43 Brandeis L.J. 597 (2004-2005)
Burning the Flag: A Conservative Defense of Radical Speech and Why It Matters Now

handle is hein.journals/branlaj43 and id is 607 raw text is: BURNING THE FLAG: A CONSERVATIVE
DEFENSE OF RADICAL SPEECH AND WHY IT
MATTERS NOW
D. Wes Sullenger
I. INTRODUCTION
The First Amendment presupposes that the freedom to speak one's mind
is not only an aspect of individual liberty - and thus a good unto itself - but
also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a
whole.
- Justice John Paul Stevens
Bose Corp. v. Consumer's Union of the United States, Inc., 466 U.S. 485
(1984).
Many Americans, and, indeed, even many lawyers, believe the First
Amendment's protections of free speech grant them the right to convey their
political opinions without fear of legal penalties. In the two centuries since its
adoption, though, the federal and state governments have, at various times,
attempted to circumscribe the speech protections afforded citizens by the First
Amendment. During the twentieth century, a new issue was added to the free
speech debates: symbolic political speech. The subject arguably reached its
most difficult and contentious when it involved burning the American flag, one
of the key symbols of the United States. This topic is salient for re-examination
because of the unique confluence of events that occurred in the Fall of 2004.
In 2003, on the heels of a conflict in Afghanistan, the nation went to war in
Iraq. The war has been massively unpopular in the so-called Arab world.
Protests have been frequent and heated. The war has also proved unpopular
* Associate in the Nashville office of the King & Ballow Law Offices. Practices primarily
employment discrimination litigation and wage and hour law but has a special interest in First
Amendment law. The author's thanks go out to Dr. Thomas Mackey, Michael G. Adams, esq.,
and Bruce E. Buchanan, esq. for reading and providing feedback on drafts of this article.
Special thanks to Tonya Sullenger for providing support during the research and writing
process.

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