Cover image for Flag burning and free speech : the case of Texas v. Johnson
Flag burning and free speech : the case of Texas v. Johnson
Goldstein, Robert Justin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 269 pages ; 23 cm.

Format :


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KF224.J64 G65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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When Gregory Lee Johnson burned a flag, he was convicted for flag desecration under Texas law, but the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. This work examines the case and the attendant controversy over whether protection of the flag conflicts with constitutional guarantees of free speech.

Author Notes

Robert Justin Goldstein is professor of political science at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Goldstein's rich analysis of the major Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Johnson (1989) shows how the case pitted free speech rights against regulations that prohibit the desecration of the US flag. Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted of violating a Texas law against flag desecration during a demonstration at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. Texas v. Johnson held that First Amendment free speech rights prevail over the government's desire to protect the US flag from desecration. Goldstein reveals the impact of the Court's decision by drawing on original documents and interviews with participants, including politically charged responses by Congress, the president, interest groups, media, and others. The decision hastened an emotional debate over the meaning of the flag as a symbol of cherished US values and sacrifices in war versus First Amendment rights. Goldstein carefully analyzes the congressional debate over the Flag Protection Act (1989), which was intended to blunt the effect of Texas v. Johnson. The Supreme Court struck down this act in US v. Eichman (1990) because the law conflicted with the Texas v. Johnson ruling. This excellent volume also reflects on the "culture war" that divides the participants in the flag desecration debate. It is similar to Anthony Lewis's Gideon's Trumpet (1964). Highly recommended at all levels. M. Hendrickson; Wilson College

Table of Contents

Editors' Prefacep. vii
Prefacep. xi
1. The Early History of the American Flag Desecration Controversyp. 1
2. Flag Desecration Laws and Prosecutions, 1897-1980p. 20
3. The Texas Flag Burning Trials of Gregory Lee Johnson, 1984-1988p. 44
4. The Supreme Court and Texas v. Johnson, Fall 1988-Spring 1989p. 81
5. The Post-Johnson Firestorm, Summer 1989p. 108
6. The Congressional Debate on Responding to Johnson, July-October 1989p. 128
7. Testing the Flag Protection Act in the Courts, October 1989-May 1990p. 172
8. The Eichman Ruling and Its Aftermath, June 1990p. 206
9. From Eichman to the New Millennium, June 1990-Spring 2000p. 226
Chronologyp. 255
Bibliographical Essayp. 259
Indexp. 263