Amendment Text: H.Amdt.153 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)

There is one version of the amendment.

Shown Here:
Amendment as Offered (06/03/2003)

This Amendment appears on page H4837 in the following article from the Congressional Record.



[Pages H4811-H4843]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING CONGRESS TO PROHIBIT PHYSICAL 
              DESECRATION OF THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I 
call up House Resolution 255 and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

[[Page H4812]]

                              H. Res. 255

       Resolved, That upon the adoption of this resolution it 
     shall be in order without intervention of any point of order 
     to consider in the House the joint resolution (H.J. Res. 4) 
     proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United 
     States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical 
     desecration of the flag of the United States. The joint 
     resolution shall be considered as read for amendment. The 
     previous question shall be considered as ordered on the joint 
     resolution and on any amendment thereto to final passage 
     without intervening motion except: (1) two hours of debate on 
     the joint resolution equally divided and controlled by the 
     chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on the 
     Judiciary; (2) an amendment in the nature of a substitute 
     offered by Representative Conyers of Michigan or his 
     designee, which shall be considered as read and shall be 
     separately debatable for one hour equally divided and 
     controlled by the proponent and an opponent; and (3) one 
     motion to recommit with or without instructions.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Linder) is 
recognized for 1 hour.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield the 
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings), 
pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During 
consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for purposes of 
debate only.
  Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 255 is a modified closed rule that 
provides for the consideration of H.J. Resolution 4, legislation 
proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the 
American flag.
  This rule provides for 2 hours of debate in the House, equally 
divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of 
the Committee on the Judiciary. House Resolution 255 waives all points 
of order against consideration of the joint resolution.
  It makes in order an amendment in the nature of a substitute, if 
offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) or his designee, 
which shall be separately debatable for 1 hour, equally divided between 
the proponent and an opponent.
  Finally, this rule provides for one motion to recommit, with or 
without instructions.
  With respect to the underlying legislation, H.J. Res. 4, I want to 
commend the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham) for introducing 
this legislation and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), 
the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, for his persistent 
leadership on this important legislation, of which I am proud to be a 
cosponsor.
  The gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman Sensenbrenner) has done a fine 
job in bringing this legislation to the House floor in the years since 
my very good friend and former chairman of the Committee on Rules, the 
late Jerry Solomon, originally sponsored this proposal in the 104th 
Congress and the 105th Congress.
  As it should be, House Joint Resolution 4 is a simple, 
straightforward measure. It proposes to add an amendment to the U.S. 
Constitution that would simply give the Congress the authority to 
prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States, if 
it chooses to exercise such power.

                              {time}  1400

  The proposed amendment contains a grand total of 17 words. To the 
credit of the House as an institution, we have passed proposed 
constitutional amendments of this nature with more than enough 
bipartisan support in the 104th Congress, the 105th Congress, the 106th 
Congress, and the 107th Congress. In each of those sessions, the U.S. 
House approved the proposed constitutional amendments with more than 
the two-thirds majority required to approve such modifications to the 
Constitution. Unfortunately, as has been the case too many times in 
recent years, the other Chamber has failed to approve the legislation 
and forward it to the States for consideration by their legislatures. 
Indeed, if the Senate could approve this proposed constitutional 
amendment, I understand from the Committee on the Judiciary that all 50 
States have passed resolutions calling on the Congress to approve an 
amendment of this nature.
  This is an ample reason to believe that if this amendment were sent 
to the States for ratification, more than three-quarters of the States 
are poised to ratify this measure, thereby making it a formal part of 
our Constitution.
  In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 255 is a modified closed rule 
that will give the House an opportunity to work its will on a 
substitute put forward by the ranking member, the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Conyers), or his designee. I urge my colleagues to 
support the rule so we can move on to the underlying legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Linder) for 
yielding me time.
  I rise in strong opposition to House Joint Resolution 4. I firmly 
believe that passing this constitutional amendment would abandon the 
very values and principles upon which the country was founded. Make no 
mistake, I deplore the desecration of the flag, and I am absolutely 
certain that 440 Members of the House of Representatives deplore the 
desecration of the flag.
  Those who burn or otherwise desecrate the American flag tread on a 
symbol cherished by nearly every one of our citizens in this great 
country. While I am appalled at the notion of someone desecrating our 
flag, I am more concerned with tampering with the Constitution. The 
true test of any nation's commitment to freedom of expression lies in 
its ability to protect unpopular expression.
  In 1929, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that it 
was the most impressive principle of our Constitution that it protects 
not just freedom for the thought and expression we agree with, but 
freedom for the thought we hate.
  The passage of this amendment would provide a dangerous precedent for 
future attempts to amend the Constitution, putting the essential 
freedoms it upholds at risk. If Congress amends the first amendment, 
something that has never happened in our Nation's history, it will open 
the door for other exceptions to liberty. Ultimately, we must remember 
that it is not simply the flag we honor but rather the principles it 
embodies. To restrict people's means of expression would do nothing but 
abandon those principles; and to destroy those principles would be a 
far greater travesty than to destroy its symbols.
  I repeat a portion of that paragraph: to restrict people's means of 
expression would do nothing but abandon those principles, and to 
destroy these principles would be a far greater travesty than to 
destroy its symbol. Indeed, it would render the symbol meaningless.
  Mr. Speaker, we are too secure as a Nation to risk our commitment to 
freedom by endeavoring to legislate patriotism. The flag burning 
amendment is one more example of the Republican tendency to play the 
patriot card, to distract the people from the consequences of their 
policy. And I wish to underscore that because there are no people in 
the House of Representatives who are not patriots. And there is no one 
here any more patriotic than anyone else. And for that reason alone we 
should not be toying with patriotism principles.
  There are more important matters that Congress should be attending 
to. The way President Bush has shortchanged our veterans, we could deal 
with that, who have fought in defense of all that Old Glory signifies, 
the way that he has done this is an outrage to all my colleagues and 
they should be prepared to fight about it. Why are we spending time 
arguing about the physical desecration of the United States flag 
instead of voicing anger about the disservices done to what the flag 
stands for?
  One would like to believe veterans this year would receive more than 
a Top Gun flash visit. As a grateful Nation, we should ensure that all 
veterans have adequate access to health care and timely benefits. In my 
district alone, veterans are being told that they are not going to be 
able to get benefits, and we have some new super eight province that we 
have established that if their income is at a certain level they will 
not qualify. Those are some things that I believe we must seriously 
look at.
  I also think we must seriously reexamine the President's budget 
priorities

[[Page H4813]]

that cause this Congress to provide inadequate funding for those in 
uniform so as to allow tax cuts that will mostly advantage some few 
wealthy Americans. And since veterans health services have not been 
appropriately funded, the Bush administration has proposed to increase 
co-payments for prescription drugs and to charge high annual enrollment 
fees.
  I oppose this proposal, as I am sure many Members on both sides of 
the aisle do, which punishes those in need by charging them money they 
do not have to pay for services they do need but cannot pay.
  Current Secretary of State, the retired four star Army general, Colin 
Powell, that so many people tout so often and a few denigrate, voiced 
opposition to a similar flag amendment in the year 2000. Here is what 
Secretary Powell said at that time: ``The first amendment exists to 
ensure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that 
with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find 
outrageous. I would not amend,'' Colin Powell says, ``that great shield 
of democracy'' that stands right behind the Speaker of this House, ``to 
hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly long after 
they have slunk away.''
  That sounded so good maybe I ought to repeat it again: ``The first 
amendments exists to ensure that freedom of speech and expression 
applies not just to that which we agree or disagree, but also that 
which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of 
democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly 
long after they have slunk away.''
  I thank Secretary Powell.
  This is a shallow amendment that addresses a nonissue. This is an 
unnecessary amendment that helps no one, but is likely to hurt us all. 
This is a dangerous amendment that should not be approved.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. Weldon).
  Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for 
yielding me time.
  Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of this rule and the 
underlying legislation, H.J. Res. 4, the desecration of the flag 
resolution.
  Our Nation's flag is a sacred symbol of our country's liberties that 
so many men and women in uniform have fought and died to defend. As the 
symbol of that liberty, the flag deserves our greatest respect. To 
desecrate the flag raised by soldiers at Iwo Jima, astronauts on the 
Moon, and rescue workers at the World Trade Center is an affront to the 
very values it represents. Even in the past week, young Americans have 
laid down their lives in Iraq to protect the freedom and liberty that 
we enjoy here at home.
  It is disgraceful that people would desecrate, even burn, the flag 
that all of our Nation's veterans have fought so valiantly to defend.
  Even as American soldiers prepared for war in Iraq, there were 
reports of protesters defacing flags, even flags being displayed in a 
memorial to the victims of September 11, 2001. These acts are 
disgraceful. They are repugnant, and they should not happen in this 
great Nation.
  The flag deserves and demands our respect. The physical desecration 
of the flag is not free speech nor should it be protected under the 
first amendment. The amendment before us will clarify that desecration 
of the flag does not fall under the first amendment and will prevent 
the courts from making such an assertion.
  I urge my colleagues to support the underlying resolution. I urge my 
colleagues to support the rule.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), who serves on the Committee 
on the Judiciary with distinction.
  (Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas asked and was given permission to revise 
and extend her remarks.)
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, this is a very solemn 
occasion. I thank the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
Hastings) for yielding me time; and I also thank him for his detailed 
explanation of the needs of this House, the needs of the people of 
America.
  Mr. Speaker, I know that he rarely mentions the fact that he has had 
the occasion to ably serve as a Federal judge, interpreting the 
Constitution on a very regular basis. I thought since we were 
discussing the privacy of this Nation, a freedom, that it would be 
important to do something that many Americans do not do. And I would 
encourage you to not only read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, 
but I would encourage you and the children of this Nation to carry the 
Constitution with you.
  Might I share with you the words of article I, which expresses the 
beliefs of Americans from the early stages of our founding: ``Congress 
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or 
prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of 
speech or of the press of the right of the people peaceably to assemble 
and to petition the government for redress of grievances.''
  I believe that the young men and women throughout the ages, whether 
it was the war of 1812 or World War I or II, Korean conflict, Vietnam, 
Bosnia, Kosovo or the war in Iraq, young men and women went off 
inscribed not with the symbol of a flag but with the understanding of 
what the Constitution says. They are not fighting for a symbol, a piece 
of cloth. They are fighting for the fact that in America, we rise every 
day and are able to speak our minds, go to our respective places of 
worship and no one is there to restrain us, handcuff us, or detain us.
  How shameful it is that we come now the fourth, fifth, sixth time 
since I have been in the United States Congress to suggest to the 
American people that our values are woven into the stripes and stars of 
this flag. They are woven into our hearts and the words and the 
Constitution and the Bill of Rights which you carry with you through 
your citizenship rights and privacy.
  How tragic it is that we have to stand on the floor today when we 
have young Marines dying every day in Iraq, when we have not finished, 
if you will, in bringing order to Iraq; when we pass a tax bill that 
eliminates close to 25 percent of the American people from being able 
to access relief through taxation, people who work every day making 
10,000 to $25,000 a year. This Congress, this Congress voted a tax bill 
that would eliminate any relief for them, no child tax credit for 
families having as many as 12 million children, or representing 12 
million children. This is the Congress that wants to come and denigrate 
the Constitution, disrespect its interpretation.
  What is the interpretation? Freedom of expression, freedom of speech. 
And what I would say to you is that my understanding and value and love 
for this Nation is not based upon someone's desire to express their 
beliefs by any commentary or any action on the flag.

                              {time}  1415

  I have never burned the flag. I have never desired to burn the flag. 
I have expressed my opinion by way of the democracy that this flag 
guarantees for the freedom of speech.
  How tragic it is. Does it mean that when we pass this resolution that 
if someone desires to wear a tie, a T-shirt or shorts that has a 
reflection or symbol of the flag that they are then in violation of the 
law of this land? Does it mean that we again go to the United States 
Supreme Court? Time after time, the United States Supreme Court has 
rejected any attempt to qualify the expression of speech.
  Let me say this. We realize that we cannot cry fire in a crowded 
theater, that we would hurt someone, but we realize that burning the 
flag or desecrating it in any way does not do that.
  Let me tell my colleagues why I am against this rule: Because I 
offered an amendment that would simply say, let us protect political 
speech, let us make sure that this amendment does not disallow one from 
expressing himself politically or his different views with the United 
States of America.
  What does the Committee on Rules do? Rejects the many amendments that 
we offered to bring light as to what the Constitution actually says.
  Mr. Speaker, let me say to my colleagues that I am certainly 
disappointed that we would use this floor to be able to frivolously 
undermine the Constitution. There is a saying that says, ``the measure 
of a man,'' and we can go on to talk about the great

[[Page H4814]]

things of that person, the measure of a woman, the integrity and the 
honesty, the measure of this Congress should be the good works that we 
have done, by the American people.
  I would simply argue this is a bad rule, this is a bad resolution 
because we are denying the very underpinning that the bill is built on, 
that is, the Constitution of the United States.
  I yield back this amendment, I yield back this resolution, and I 
stand with the Constitution.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H. Res. 255 the rule governing 
debate on H.J. Res. 4, an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit 
physical desecration of the flag of the United States. I oppose the 
rule to H.J. Res. 4 because the rule allows inadequate debate on 
amendment to an overly broad infringement on the First Amendment Right 
to Freedom of Speech. This partisan, modified closed rule,severely 
limits amendment and debate on issues that affect every American 
citizen--the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.
  I proposed an amendment to H.J. Res. 4, that was not made in order. 
My amendment to H.J. Res. 4, was designed to protect American's right 
to express their opinions and views about government activity. My 
amendment stated in pertinent part, ``a person shall not have violated 
a prohibition under that section for desecrating the flag, if such 
desecration is an expression of disagreement or displeasure with an act 
taken or decision made by a local, State, or Federal Government of the 
United States.''
  Under my amendment Americans would have retained their freedom to 
speak out against actions taken by local, State, and Federal 
governments through desecrations of the flag symbolizing their views. 
Our democratic government is a government of the people. Our citizen's 
freedom of expression is at the very heart of our democracy. An attack 
on American's freedom of expression is an attack on our entire 
democracy. My amendment would have protected our democracy and protects 
our citizens.
  This rule, on the other hand, is potentially harmful to our democracy 
and America's citizens. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are 
fundamental components of our democracy. Limiting the ability of 
American citizens to voice their opinions about their government, 
through flag desecrations or otherwise, is a violation of the 
principles of our democracy that are symbolized in the American flag, 
including the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
  I hope that the Republican leadership sees the irony of their 
decision to draft such a restrictive rule. We are debating a resolution 
that, if passed, will severely restrict American's ability to speak 
openly, freely, and fully, on issue that are of great concern to the 
public. Under this rule, my colleagues on this side of the isle are 
restricted from speaking openly, freely, and fully, on an issue that 
will have a drastic impact on the public, the First Amendment.
  This proposed amendment to the Constitution, H.J. Res. 4, is a severe 
abridgement of the freedom of expression protected by the First 
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This rule is a severe abridgement 
of our ability to debate an issue that may have a profound impact on 
one of America's most fundamental rights.
  Mr. Speaker, I oppose this rule and I encourage my colleagues to do 
likewise.


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Terry). The gentleman will state his 
parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, when individuals abuse the time limit, is 
there an arrangement by which that time can be applied against their 
side's total time left?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for proper debate comes out of the 
time that has been yielded.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Paul).
  (Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule, although 
unenthusiastically. I am not too excited about this process, and 
certainly I am not very excited about this proposal to amend the 
Constitution. As for my viewpoint, I see the amendment as very 
unnecessary and very dangerous. I want to make a few points along those 
lines.
  It has been inferred too often by those who promote this amendment 
that those who oppose it are less patriotic, and I think that is 
unfair. And an earlier statement was made by the gentleman from Florida 
that everybody here is patriotic and nobody's patriotism should be 
challenged.
  It has also been said that if one does not support this amendment to 
the flag that they are disloyal to the military, and that cannot 
possibly be true. I have served 5 years in the military, and I do not 
feel less respectful of the military because I have a different 
interpretation on how we should handle the flag. But nevertheless, I 
think what we are doing here is very serious business because it deals 
with more than just the flag.
  First off, I think what we are trying to achieve through an amendment 
to the Constitution is to impose values on people, that is to teach 
people patriotism with their definition of what patriotism is. But we 
cannot force values on people; we cannot say there will be a law that a 
person will do such and such because it is disrespectful if they do 
not, and therefore, we are going to make sure that people have these 
values that we want to teach. Values in a free society are done 
voluntarily, not through coercion, and certainly not by the law, 
because the law implies that there are guns, and that means the Federal 
Government and others will have to enforce these laws.
  Here we are, amending the Constitution for a noncrisis. How many 
cases of flag burning have we seen? I have seen it on television a few 
times in the last year, but it was done on foreign soil, by foreigners, 
who had become angry at us over our policies, but I do not see that 
many Americans in the streets burning up flags. There were probably a 
lot more earlier in previous decades, but in recent years, it averages 
out to about eight, about eight cases a year, and they are not all that 
horrendous. It involves more vandalism, teenagers taking flags and 
desecrating the flag and maybe burning it, and there are laws against 
that.
  This is all so unnecessary. There are already laws against vandalism. 
There are State laws that say they cannot do it and they can be 
prosecuted. So this is overkill.
  As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court has helped to create this. I 
know a lot of people depend on the Supreme Court to protect us, but in 
many ways, I think the Supreme Court has hurt us. So I agree with those 
who are promoting this amendment that the Supreme Court overreacted, 
because I think the States should have many more prerogatives than they 
do. Many states have these laws, and I believe that we should have a 
supreme court that would allow more solutions to occur at the State 
level. They would be imperfect, no doubt, it would not be perfect 
protection of liberty by State laws. But let me tell my colleagues, 
when we come here as politicians and superpatriots and we pass 
amendments to the Constitution, that will be less than perfect, then it 
will be just like the Supreme Court--a poor national solution.
  It is a ruling for everyone, and if we make a mistake, it affects 
everybody in every State, and that is what I am afraid we are doing 
here.
  The First Amendment has been brought up on several occasions, and I 
am sure it will be mentioned much more in general debate. This 
amendment does not directly violate the First Amendment, but what it 
does, it gives the Congress the authority to write laws that will 
violate the First Amendment, and this is where the trouble is. Nothing 
but confusion and litigation can result.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Filner), my good friend.
  (Mr. FILNER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak against this rule and 
against the underlying motion.
  As the chairman said in his eloquent opening remarks, our flag is a 
grand and glorious symbol of our great Nation, of our fundamental 
values of freedom, liberty, justice and opportunity; and it is those 
values we must protect.
  We are not going to protect these values by tampering with the Bill 
of Rights and our Constitution. These have stood the test of time, and 
it is impossible to legislate patriotism. We protect these values 
through proper education of our children, nurturing their love and 
patriotism of our country and nurturing their respect for our

[[Page H4815]]

flag and the men and women who keep our Nation strong.
  Yes, through the years our values have always included respect for 
our veterans, also. As a child, I heard from my veteran father of the 
sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed services to keep our 
Nation free during World War II; and we have just witnessed the 
willingness of our current generation to put themselves in harm's way 
without hesitation when called upon by their President and their Nation 
to in Iraq.
  So why are we having this debate now? I would appreciate the 
attention of my good friend from California. Why are we having this 
debate now?
  This is a shell game, Mr. Speaker. They want us to look at this shell 
that has the flag and they are waving it furiously. They are waving it 
furiously, but they do not want us to watch this shell which are 
veterans benefits, which they are taking away. They vote first, out of 
here, a $25 billion cut in our Nation's veterans, and then it is down 
to $15 billion.
  Is this the way we honor our flag and honor our veterans? I find it 
deeply disturbing that many Members of the House of Representatives 
seem to be tenaciously determined, year after year, to pass this 
amendment at the very time, at the very time they vote for budgets that 
cut services and benefits to our Nation's veterans. This is hypocrisy, 
and the veterans who are here to lobby on this bill should understand 
the hypocrisy that is going on and the shell game that is happening. 
This hypocrisy will not escape these veterans.
  True respect for our veterans means that we do not abandon them when 
they return to our shores. Do my colleagues know, and I ask the 
gentleman from California, 14,000 veterans right now have waited longer 
than a year and a half for their action, many more for four or five 
years, for adjudication of their claims. There are veterans in San 
Diego, I would tell the gentleman, who have died while waiting for 
their appeal to be adjudicated.
  Two hundred thousand of our veterans right now are waiting longer 
than 6 months for their first health care appointment with the VA, 
their first health care appointment. This is the way we honor our 
veterans? Some of them will die before their first appointment.
  We have educational benefits under the GI bill that do not pay for 
college education. My father went to college on the GI bill. He bought 
a home on the GI bill. I am in Congress because of the GI bill, and 
what are we doing now? We are not even given enough for anyone to buy a 
home or go to college.
  This House has recommended to increase prescription drug copayments 
and impose a new enrollment of $250 for many veterans whom we are 
supposedly honoring today. Let me tell my colleagues about concurrent 
receipt, which allows disabled veterans who are retired from the 
military to receive both their disability compensation and their 
military retired pay. It has been on our agenda for years. The 
congressional leadership, the Republican leadership, while working 
diligently on passing this amendment, cannot find the courage, cannot 
muster up their skills at legislation to pass concurrent receipt. The 
very people who are arguing for this bill vote ``no'' when it comes to 
our veterans, vote ``no'' when it comes to our concurrent receipt.
  I ask the gentlepeople from the majority party, what will be the 
morale of our soldiers, soon to be veterans when they return home from 
Iraq, when they know they will have to wait for the promised services 
that the VA has made, when they know that they will have to pay more 
for less? What will be their morale when they see we are not keeping 
our promise to veterans? Are they going to wave the flag?
  I challenge my colleagues to put first our values that our great flag 
represents. We are patriots. We are Americans. Let us restore our 
contract with our Nation's veterans. That is the way to express our 
patriotism and to protect our Nation's flag.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I would just like to comment that I am surprised that, for as long as 
the previous speaker served on the Committee on Veterans Affairs, he 
has allowed it to go on this long.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. 
Gilchrest).
  Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the 
time.
  Sometimes in these debates one issue gets mixed up with another 
issue, and I think that is what is happening here. I rise in support of 
this rule.
  I also want to make a comment to the previous speaker that this 
Congress, Republican majority, with the help of the Democratic 
minority, is increasing the amount of money that is going to a myriad 
of veterans programs all over the country. So when those veterans come 
back from Iraq, they will not only see us waving the flag in strong 
appreciation of the work they did in enhancing freedom in Iraq, but 
they will receive the kind of benefits that the previous speaker 
mentioned about going to college on the GI bill.
  I went to college on the GI bill. I bought a house with the GI bill, 
and those kinds of services are for the veterans of today. These young 
people are children of democracy, and they deserve what we received 
many, many years ago in our service to our country, but we are here 
today to discuss the rule and the issue of flag burning amendment.
  I want to ask the question, what does it mean to be patriotic? How do 
we protect the flag and honor the flag? We honor the flag by being good 
parents, by being good citizens, by being good neighbors, by 
understanding and respecting the rule of law and understanding the 
thread of tolerance that weaves its way through the quilt of democracy.
  I rise today opposing the underlying bill. How many times have we 
seen the flag burned in the United States? We see it burned in China, 
we see it burned in Iraq, we see it burned in Syria. We see it burned 
all over the country, but we do not see it burned here. If a person 
burns the flag in China, they put them in jail. If they burn the flag 
in Iran, they probably cut their head off. If they burn the flag in 
Cuba, they go to jail. Do we want to follow that example and that 
precedent? I do not think so.
  Our present Constitution blends together the best of our heart and 
our minds. Our present Constitution understands our responsibility to 
respect the rule of law, but it shows such humanity in the tolerance 
that we have for different opinions in this country.

                              {time}  1430

  Do we want to respect and honor those who lost their lives in defense 
of this Nation? The last verse of that wonderfully beautiful poem ``In 
Flanders Fields'' says, ``If you break faith with us who die, we shall 
not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Field.'' How do you break 
faith with those who defended the country? You stop having tolerance. 
You start following the precedent of countries like the former Iraq or 
Cuba or China.
  We want to raise the flag in honor of those people who have protected 
the flag. Be a good citizen, a good neighbor, a good American.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Cunningham), the sponsor of the underlying legislation.
  (Mr. CUNNINGHAM asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, I take umbrage at some who would say 
that this is frivolous legislation. Mr. Speaker, to me, patriotism 
demands more than standing on the House floor and stating that we are 
all patriotic or we all support the troops. Check the record of those 
Members that consistently vote against defense bills or intel or even 
our veterans. It is just not true. To me, there are Members who are 
unpatriotic in this body.
  I would say that voting against this bill in itself is not 
unpatriotic. People have different reasons. But patriotism is always 
unfinished business. It requires action, not just verbiage. And I state 
again that a vote against this bill does not mean you are unpatriotic, 
but I think there is a combination of votes and support for our troops 
and our country that does classify some people with those actions.
  Mr. Speaker, a few months ago, I watched on television as they played

[[Page H4816]]

the series ``Glory.'' It was about a regiment of African American 
troops that volunteered to go up to the front. They knew in attacking a 
fort that it would be certain death. And as Denzel Washington, the 
actor, and his crowd started to go forward to this and attack, knowing 
that they would most certainly die, the question was asked, ``If I 
should fall, who will carry this flag?'' And echoed down the ranks was, 
``I will,'' ``I will,'' ``I will,'' and they each did so. Each time the 
flag fell, African Americans picked up that flag and carried it 
forward. Thousands upon thousands of African Americans died protecting 
that flag.
  Who rejects the arguments of the few? This bill will pass. The same 
group rejects it every time. My friend, who is a libertarian, he votes 
against it. Many of the far left vote against it. Some people, in my 
opinion, attempt to hide behind the first amendment. But who says that 
they are wrong? Two hundred years of tradition. Abraham Lincoln, 
Jefferson, Washington, our forefathers, came forward and said that the 
flag is worth protecting.
  In the Civil War, and I am not proposing this, but in the Civil War 
there was the penalty of death in desecrating the flag. That is 
extreme. But who says they are wrong are 80 percent of the American 
people. All 50 States have said they will ratify this if we pass this 
legislation on the floor. All 50 States, 80 percent of the American 
people, and 100 percent of the veterans groups. Look around and see the 
veterans groups around Capitol Hill today. They support this 
legislation. They do not think it is frivolous. They do not think it is 
unnecessary. They do not think it violates the Constitution, because of 
200 years of tradition.
  One Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, changed 200 years. Mr. Speaker, we 
are saying that that is wrong. Talk about extremism and affecting the 
Constitution, we think it is that decision in 1989. I reject their 
arguments. Mr. Speaker, 14 years ago, the Supreme Court did reverse 200 
years of tradition.
  In my own district there was a protest. It was not about the flag; it 
was about bilingual education. There was a group of Hispanics that came 
around to protest a bilingual education ruling. One of the Hispanics 
started tromping and burning an American flag, and a Hispanic from my 
district grabbed the flag and was beaten. He said, listen, I may 
disagree on bilingual education, but this flag is a symbol of why I 
came to this country. It stands for freedom, it stands for liberty, and 
you will not desecrate it in my presence.
  Some people say, well, it does not exude violence. You burn the 
American flag, and generally there is violence that follows. And again 
I would say, Mr. Speaker, that patriotism is always unfinished 
business.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to my 
friend, the distinguished gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler).
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I want to make two points in this 1 minute.
  Number one, the gentleman who just talked disparaged the Supreme 
Court because of one decision, that we should not respect that 
decision. It is the same Supreme Court that 2 years ago arrogated to 
itself the right to take away from the American people the choice of 
the Presidency and said do not finish counting the votes, we declare 
George Bush the President of the United States. That decision has been 
respected. Though on the merits and on the intellect, that decision 
belongs in the garbage heap of history because it was not an honest 
decision, it was not honestly intended. It was a results-oriented 
decision.
  Secondly, the gentleman said that there are Members of this body who 
are not patriotic as seen by the votes against defense bills. The fact 
of the matter is, you can vote for a defense bill, you can vote against 
it based on whether you think that bill is best for your country or 
not. But to ascribe unpatriotic motives to differences of opinion is to 
disrespect the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. To ascribe 
unpatriotic motives to people who differ with you politically is the 
methodology of a Soviet commissar. It is not an argument that should be 
heard on this floor. It is an argument that destroys liberty. It 
destroys freedom of speech.
  And whether a particular defense bill was good or too small, or bad 
or good or deserved to be voted for should be addressed on the merits 
intellectually and not by disparaging the motives and saying that 
someone who votes against it is unpatriotic. That argument we could 
hear from Mr. Stalin, not from someone on this floor.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, Robert Williams wrote an article recently, and he is one 
of the Tuskegee Airmen, and the title of the article was ``A Tuskegee 
Airman Salutes The Flag.'' He talked initially about how he became a 
fighter pilot in the Second World War. And then he goes on, and I am 
skipping his first three paragraphs, but I quote him: ``That is why I 
cringe when I see Congress preparing to pass a constitutional amendment 
that would rewrite the first amendment for the first time ever to ban a 
form of protest. It is particularly hard for me,'' Mr. Williams says, 
``as an American war veteran to see this action taken in the name of 
patriotism. For while we as a country view our flag as the very essence 
of patriotism, it is, in reality, a symbol of that spirit.
  ``And if the proposed flag desecration amendment wins final approval, 
our flag will become a symbol without substance. Don't get me wrong,'' 
Mr. Williams says, ``no one endorses the idea of burning the flag or 
desecrating it in any way. It is, to me, a very repugnant concept. But 
I find more threatening the idea that we would change the Constitution 
every time some American came up with a new repugnant way to protest.''
  He talks a lot about what it took to become an airman from Ottumwa, 
Iowa, and how he and his buddy applied on the same day, and he was, 
with empathy, told to give up. He did not give up, and he became a part 
of a proud fighter force in our Air Force, the Tuskegee Airmen. And he 
closes, and I am skipping a lot of what Mr. Williams said, he said: 
``Today, as I sit and recall the terrible attacks that we endured just 
to get the right to fight for our country, I am more certain that the 
elimination of any right to freedom of speech is dead bang wrong. 
Protest, after all, takes many forms and many shapes. Some of them may 
be seen as distasteful by some Americans. But if we change the 
Constitution to outlaw these less than acceptable forms of protest, 
then what we are doing is just as repugnant as burning the flag 
itself.''
  Thank you, Robert Williams.
  You know what we could or should be doing right now? We should be 
passing the 13 appropriation measures that is our mandate here in 
Congress. We should be providing proper health benefits, rather than 
turning veterans away, as they are in my district in Fort Lauderdale, 
Florida. We should be passing a prescription drug benefit rather than 
talking about desecrating the flag. We should be building schools for 
our children and grandchildren rather than leaving them deficits that 
will cause them not to even have school. We should be passing aid to 
public universities to stop tuition from going up the way it is in my 
State and 20 other States around this Nation.

  How about providing a child care tax credit for working families, 
like the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel) came here and asked 
unanimous consent to do, rather than talking about flag desecration?
  We should be increasing the funding of the National Institute of 
Health research funds. We should be helping the Centers for Disease 
Control prepare us in the event there is a problem in this Nation. We 
should be passing pay raises for Federal judges in this country who too 
long have suffered at the whim of this United States Congress. We 
should be providing dollars for first responders in this country. We 
should be providing money for port security, better housing for 
veterans, paving roads, paying teachers; and I can go on and on.
  But what we come here with is a repugnant measure. All of us, every 
man and woman in this House, is patriotic, whether they voted for the 
defense measure or not. All of us are superpatriots in the sense that 
we provide service for our country. And each in our own way 
ideologically, left and right, black and white, rich and poor come here 
for the purpose of upholding that great symbol of ours, the flag. And I 
do not need anybody to tell me about patriotism.

[[Page H4817]]

  I lost relatives and friends in wars like every man and woman here 
has. And there are kids right now that would rather come home and know 
that we took care of some of those things that we needed to take care 
of rather than handle a handful of miscreants that might go out and 
foolishly burn a flag. There are laws, as one of our colleagues said, 
that takes care of that. Let those laws be sufficient for us. Let the 
flag reign supreme. Do not let it rain down the kind of desecration 
that not passing these measures would help us to do.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to 
simply say that after that litany of spending measures, I believe the 
gentleman from Florida has forfeited any future opportunities to 
complain about deficits.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the 
previous question on the resolution.
  The previous question was ordered.
  The resolution was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                              {time}  1445

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 255, I 
call up the joint resolution (H.J. Res. 4) proposing an amendment to 
the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to 
prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States, and 
ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the title of the joint resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry). Pursuant to House 
Resolution 255, the joint resolution is considered read for amendment.
  The text of House Joint Resolution 4 is as follows:

                              H.J. Res. 4

       Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
     United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of 
     each House concurring therein),

     SECTION 1. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

       The following article is proposed as an amendment to the 
     Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to 
     all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
     ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several 
     States within seven years after the date of its submission 
     for ratification:

                              ``Article --

       ``The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical 
     desecration of the flag of the United States.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. After 2 hours of debate on the joint 
resolution, it shall be in order to consider an amendment in the nature 
of a substitute, if offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Conyers), or his designee, which shall be considered read and debatable 
for 1 hour, equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an 
opponent.
  The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentleman 
from New York (Mr. Nadler) each will control 1 hour of debate on the 
joint resolution.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner).


                             General Leave

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material on H.J. Res. 4.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Wisconsin?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.J. Res. 4 is a proposed amendment to the United States 
Constitution that would simply return to Congress the authority that it 
possessed for over 200 years to prohibit the physical desecration of 
the flag of the United States. H.J. Res. 4 does not outlaw flag 
desecration; rather, this proposal merely sets the boundaries by which 
Congress can enact subsequent implementing legislation, if it so 
chooses, to prohibit such conduct.
  The flag is the most revered and beloved symbol of our great Nation, 
representing all that is American and reminding the world of our 
undying love of freedom and democracy. The flag serves as a shining 
bedrock of our principles and values as a country, leading our men and 
women into conflicts around the globe and draping the caskets of those 
same individuals when they return home after giving the ultimate 
sacrifice in defense of such values. It is the flag to which we pledge 
allegiance here in the halls of Congress and in schools throughout our 
country. It is this object and all that it represents that we as 
Americans hold so dear.
  While the Federal Government and almost every single State validly 
protected the flag without constitutional objection for numerous years, 
this protection was circumscribed by the United States Supreme Court in 
Texas v. Johnson in 1989. In the Johnson case, a majority of five 
justices held that burning the flag was expressive conduct protected by 
the First Amendment to the Constitution. Congress responded to this 
decision in 1990 by enacting a Federal statute to outlaw such conduct 
in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson. However, 
the Supreme Court that same year ruled in United States v. Eichman that 
the recently enacted Federal statute also violated the Constitution. 
Thus, the American people are now left with no other alternative but to 
amend the Constitution in order to protect their flag.
  House Joint Resolution 4 will simply overturn these two erroneous 
Supreme Court decisions, restoring the original interpretation to the 
First Amendment that had persisted for over two centuries since the 
birth of our country. When considering the powers of our respective 
branches of government in effecting the will of the American people, we 
should be reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his first 
inaugural address in 1861, ``If the policy of the government upon vital 
questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by 
decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased to be their 
own rulers.''
  Thus, because the Constitution expressly designates ``We the People'' 
as possessing the ultimate authority in this great Nation, and not the 
Supreme Court, we as representatives of the people must respond and act 
according to the will of the people in approving this proposed 
constitutional amendment.
  Contrary to what opponents of House Joint Resolution 4 will claim, 
this proposal does not amend the First Amendment or the Bill of Rights 
for the first time in history. Rather, it was the Supreme Court that 
first amended our constitutional rights and liberties as Americans in 
this area of the law in 1989 by denying the American people the 
authority to protect their flag. H.J. Res. 4 will simply restore this 
sacred right and the original understanding of the First Amendment and 
the Bill of Rights that had persisted since the very beginning of our 
country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of 
Independence, and James Madison, the father of our Constitution, both 
agreed that the government could prohibit acts of flag desecration.
  Rights guaranteed under the First Amendment are not unlimited. 
Rather, Americans are constrained in their speech to a certain degree, 
whether pursuant to libel and slander laws, perjury laws, laws against 
inciting breach of the peace or riots, or obscenity laws. Furthermore, 
conduct that is arguably associated with speech has also always been 
validly regulated. While someone seeking publicity or wanting to 
protest may think that the best method to convey a particular message 
may be to parade nude in Lafayette Square across from the White House, 
that form of conduct is illegal. H.J. Res. 4 simply seeks to give 
Congress the authority to prohibit another particular form of conduct, 
flag desecration, without regard to the speech being broadcasted during 
such conduct.
  Those seeking to express themselves would be left with, as Chief 
Justice Rehnquist put it, ``a full panoply of other symbols and every 
conceivable form of verbal expression'' by which to make their ideas 
known. As the Supreme Court has stated, ``the First Amendment does not 
guarantee the right to employ every conceivable method of communication 
at all times and in all places.''
  I urge my colleagues to recognize the wishes of the American people 
and restore the original interpretation and understanding of the First 
Amendment and the Bill of Rights to the Constitution by supporting this 
resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

[[Page H4818]]

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, today we are enduring the annual Republican rite of 
spring, a proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights to restrict what it 
calls flag desecration.
  Why spring? Because the calendar tells us that June 14 is Flag Day, 
and then, of course, we have July 4. Members need to send out a press 
release extolling the need to protect the flag, as if the flag needed 
protection by Congress. We do not see a great epidemic of flag burning. 
This amendment is truly an answer in search of a problem.
  The flag is a symbol of a great Nation and of the fundamental 
freedoms for which this Nation stands. If the flag needs protection at 
all, it is from Members of Congress who value the symbol more than the 
freedoms that the flag represents, and would, in fact, limit those 
freedoms to protect the symbol.
  The argument that we must, for the first time in our Nation's 
history, amend the Constitution to limit freedom of speech because the 
flag stands for freedom would sound like a bad joke if the danger to 
the First Amendment were not so real. I warn my colleagues, once we get 
into the business of amending the Constitution, every time someone does 
something we do not like, there will be no end to it. We have never in 
the 200 years of this country so far, of this Republic, amended the 
Bill of Rights, and we should not start now.
  There is unpopular speech that people find offensive, unpopular 
religions that people do not like. We had a Member of the House on the 
floor a few years ago excoriate the Army for allowing a wicked 
religious service on an Army base. The man with the protest sign in a 
crowd of people favoring the President and his policies, he was 
threatened with arrest if he did not leave or get rid of his sign 
because it did not agree with the other signs. Maybe some of our 
Republican friends think we need a constitutional amendment for 
protesting against Republican Presidents. Quite frankly, the crass 
political use of the flag to question the patriotism of those who value 
our fundamental freedoms is a greater insult to those who died in the 
service of our Nation than even the burning of the flag. It is the 
civic equivalent of taking the Lord's name in vain.
  People have rights in this country that supersede public opinion, 
even strongly held public opinion. If we do not preserve those rights, 
the flag would have been desecrated far beyond the capability of any 
individual with a cigarette lighter. Let there be no doubt, this 
amendment is aimed directly at unpopular political ideas.
  Current Federal law says that the preferred way to dispose of a 
tattered and old flag is to burn it, but there are those who would 
criminalize the same act if it was done to express political dissent. 
So if you burn the flag, if you physically burn the flag while standing 
around saying nice things, pleasant things, platitudes about 
patriotism, then that is a wonderful thing to do. But if you burn the 
flag while criticizing the conduct of the current administration or 
some political decision, then you will be arrested.
  Is the act of burning the flag any different in those two instances? 
No. What is different is the words said in association with it. In one 
instance, the words are pleasant and nice and therefore protected by 
the First Amendment; and in the other instance, the words are 
unpleasant and disagreeable and, therefore, we are going to pass a 
constitutional amendment to throw someone in jail for uttering the 
wrong words while he burns the flag, because if he uttered the nice 
words while he burned the flag, that would be the correct way of 
disposing of the flag.
  Clearly, the Supreme Court was right, it is the expression of 
unpopular political opinions that this amendment is aimed at, and that 
is why this amendment should not be passed because we should protect 
the right to utter all opinions in this country, even those we think 
are harmful because bad ideas should be driven out of the arena of 
public opinion by good ideas, not by repression by the State or by the 
police. That is why we have the Bill of Rights, and that is why this 
amendment should not pass.
  One other example, and that is if someone produced a movie or play in 
which actors impersonated Nazi soldiers, and during the course of that 
play, the Nazi soldiers trampled on the flag to show the contempt the 
Nazis had for freedom and the United States, no one would think of 
arresting the actors because they know they did not mean it. They would 
know they were showing what Nazis thought of the flag and the United 
States, not what the actors think. So it is clearly the ideas 
associated with the act of desecrating the flag, it is the speech that 
we are criminalizing here, and that is why the Supreme Court was right 
to say we cannot criminalize speech.
  We heard in the hearings conducted before the Committee on the 
Judiciary from a Vietnam veteran who has been in a wheelchair for the 
last 30 years as a result of his combat wounds in Vietnam. He made 
clear he did not want his sacrifice to be used to destroy the freedoms 
for which he fought and for which many of his friends made the ultimate 
sacrifice. I would urge my colleagues to listen to all veterans and 
understand that those who support this amendment do not speak for all 
veterans.
  General Colin Powell, for example, had this to say about this 
amendment a few years ago, ``The First Amendment exists to ensure that 
freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we 
agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not 
amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The 
flag will be flying proudly long after they have slunk away.''
  Jim Warner, a Vietnam veteran and prisoner of the North Vietnamese 
from October 1967 to March 1973, wrote, ``The fact is, the principles 
for which we fought, for which our comrades died, are advancing 
everywhere upon the earth, while the principles against which we fought 
are everywhere discredited and rejected. The flag burners have lost, 
and their defeat is the most fitting and thorough rebuke of their 
principles which the human mind could devise. Why do we need to do 
more? An act intended merely as an insult is not worthy of our fallen 
comrades. It is the sort of thing our enemies did to us, but we are not 
them, and we must conform to a different standard. Now, when the 
justice of our principles is everywhere vindicated, the cause of human 
liberty demands that this amendment be rejected. Rejecting this 
amendment would not mean that we agree with those who burn our flag, or 
even that they have been forgiven. It would, instead, tell the world 
that freedom of expression means freedom, even for those expressions we 
find repugnant.''
  I would add that rejection of this amendment would mean that we 
understand that democracy in the United States and our protection of 
freedom of expression in the United States is stronger than the ill 
will and the venom that motivates people who might desecrate our flag, 
and that we do not need a constitutional amendment to protect us 
against them.

                              {time}  1500

  These thoughts are echoed by Terry Anderson, a former U.S. Marine 
staff sergeant and Vietnam veteran who was held hostage in Lebanon, who 
wrote:
  ``This constitutional amendment is an extremely unwise restriction of 
every American's constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has 
repeatedly held that the first amendment protects symbolic acts under 
its guarantee of free speech. Burning or otherwise damaging a flag is 
offensive to many, including me, but it harms no one and is so 
obviously an act of political speech that I'm amazed anyone could 
disagree with the Court.''
  Mr. Speaker, people have died for this Nation and the rights which 
this flag so proudly represents. Let us not destroy the freedoms and 
the way of life for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us not 
demean our freedoms. Let us not demean our country. Let us not for the 
first time in the history amend the Bill of Rights to say we cannot be 
trusted with that freedom. Let us not pass this amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 6 minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot), the chairman of the 
Subcommittee on the Constitution.
  Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time.
  Before I get into the bulk of my talk, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman 
from New

[[Page H4819]]

York has mentioned once again a letter from Colin Powell. I have in my 
hand here a letter written by another distinguished American general, 
Norman Schwarzkopf, who in essence indicates, and I will just take one 
sentence here, ``I regard legal protections for our flag as an absolute 
necessity and a matter of critical importance to our Nation.'' He goes 
on in support. I think both Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf are 
great Americans but oftentimes, as on many other issues, good people 
can come to differing opinions on an important issue, and they have in 
this particular case. I do believe that we do need to protect the flag.
  The flag of the United States of America has become the physical 
manifestation of democracy and freedom in the world today. The flag has 
been described as a national asset, akin to the Grand Canyon and the 
Washington Monument, as it symbolizes the strength and endurance of 
this great Nation and the embodiment of its ideals and its values. As 
Chief Justice Rehnquist has noted, ``Millions and millions of Americans 
regard it with an almost mystical reverence, regardless of what sort of 
social, political or philosophical beliefs they may have.'' We pledge 
our allegiance to the flag, we pay tribute to the flag through song as 
illustrated by our national anthem, and we honor our fallen soldiers by 
draping flags over their coffins, planting flags at Arlington National 
Cemetery as we did most recently on Memorial Day not long ago, and 
presenting flags to widows and widowers. To say that the American flag 
is simply a colored piece of cloth mischaracterizes the nature of the 
symbol and its importance to our country. As the flag goes, so goes our 
country. If we allow its defacement, so too do we allow our country's 
gradual decline. Therefore, in order to ensure the future of our 
country, we must ensure the future of our flag.
  Over the years, there have been countless acts of flag desecration. 
The gentleman has said, and we have heard this in committee, that it 
does not happen that often anymore; but since 1994 alone there have 
been over 115 reported incidents, and those are reported incidents, of 
flag desecration, occurring in 35 States, here in the District of 
Columbia, and in Puerto Rico. The States and the Federal Government 
have been prevented from prohibiting such conduct since 1989 when the 
United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning 
was expressive conduct protected by the first amendment to the 
Constitution. That was a 5 to 4 vote, I might add. Congress immediately 
responded by passing the Flag Protection Act of 1990. However, shortly 
thereafter, the Supreme Court in United States v. Eichman held that the 
act was unconstitutional for the same reasons as in the Johnson case. 
Thus, the only option remaining for the American citizenry to address 
and correct this problem is through the constitutional amendment 
process as set forth in article 5 of the United States Constitution. 
That is why we are here today. It is the only way that we now can 
protect the flag because of these two Supreme Court cases.
  H.J. Res. 4 will simply restore the constitutional authority that 
Congress had possessed for more than 200 years to protect the flag from 
physical desecration. While opponents claim that amending the 
Constitution to remedy a problem that they contend does not exist will 
open the floodgates to other amendments, history has proven this 
assertion false. In fact, since the adoption of the Bill of Rights, 
there have been over 11,000 proposed constitutional amendments with 
only 17 approved and ratified.
  So we have only amended the Constitution 17 times plus the 10 times 
it was amended in the Bill of Rights. Thus, the fear of an onslaught of 
constitutional amendments and the eventual destabilization of the 
document itself is unfounded. In addition, opponents claim that this 
proposed constitutional amendment will infringe upon speech and 
adversely impact those protesting against government policies. First, 
H.J. Res. 4 is in no way related to the suppression of free speech and 
is not at all concerned with content of any type of expression. Rather, 
H.J. Res. 4 is concerned only with the vehicle through which some 
individuals choose to express their ideas. Just as people cannot burn a 
dollar bill or burn their draft cards to express their ideas, so too 
should people be prohibited from burning or desecrating the American 
flag. H.J. Res. 4 would not interfere with a speaker's freedom to 
express his or her ideas by any other means.
  Secondly, this amendment would not unfairly target those who protest 
against government policy, as there were numerous statutes in the past 
outlawing the desecration of the flag, and there is no evidence of 
prosecutorial abuse in this regard. The exaggerated scenarios that 
opponents of this measure paint are intended not to illustrate reality 
but only to incite fear and hostility toward this measure.
  Opponents also argue that the words encompassed in the proposal such 
as ``flag'' and ``desecration'' are too broad and ambiguous, leaving 
the public uninformed as to the type of conduct that will ultimately be 
prohibited. The simple answer to this is that H.J. Res. 4 is a proposed 
constitutional amendment which by definition necessitates ambiguous 
terms in order to give Congress sufficient flexibility to draft and 
adopt authorizing legislation. Consider the calamity that would have 
resulted if the drafters of the 14th amendment would have been required 
to specifically define ``due process'' or ``equal protection.'' The 
nature of the Constitution requires that such terms be broad and 
subject to interpretation.
  Desecration of the flag necessarily diminishes and adversely affects 
those values and principles for which the flag stands.
  We believe very strongly that this should be passed.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4\1/2\ minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott).
  Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to place this debate in context because 
every time we cut veterans benefits, we pull out this resolution. Just 
a few weeks ago, we voted to cut veterans benefits by $28 billion. And 
so far those cuts have been restored, but many in this House, a 
majority, in fact, of this House, will have to explain those votes. 
Challenging the patriotism of those of us who voted ``no'' on those 
cuts will not cover up the fact that those votes were actually cast.
  Mr. Speaker, we should acknowledge that the whole purpose of the 
underlying constitutional amendment is to stifle political expression 
that we find offensive. While I agree that we should respect the flag, 
I do not think it is appropriate to use the criminal code to enforce 
our views on those who disagree with us. The Supreme Court has 
considered restrictions on the Bill of Rights that are permissible by 
the government. For example, under the first amendment with respect to 
speech, time, place and manner may generally be regulated while content 
cannot. There are, of course, exceptions. Speech that creates an 
imminent threat of violence or threatens safety or patently offensive 
expression that has no redeeming social value, those may be restricted. 
But generally you cannot restrict content. The distinction is that you 
can restrict time, place and manner but not content. And so you can 
restrict the particulars of a march or demonstration, what time it is 
held, where it is held; but you cannot restrict what people are 
marching or demonstrating about. You cannot ban a particular march or 
demonstration just because you disagree with the message unless you 
decide to ban all marches. You cannot allow marches by the Republican 
Party but not by the Democratic Party.
  Some have referred to the underlying resolution as the anti-flag 
burning amendment and they speak about the necessity of this amendment 
to keep people from burning flags. But, really, the only place we ever 
see flags burned is in compliance with the Federal code at flag 
ceremonies, disposing of a worn-out flag. If you ask any Boy Scout or 
any member of the American Legion, how do you dispose of a worn-out 
flag, they will tell you that you burn the flag at a respectful 
ceremony. This proposed constitutional amendment is all about 
expression and all about prohibiting expression in violation of the 
spirit of the first amendment. By using the word ``desecration,'' we 
are giving government officials the power to decide that one can burn a 
flag if you are saying something nice or respectful,

[[Page H4820]]

but you are a criminal if you burn the flag while saying something 
offensive or insulting. This is an absurd distinction and is in direct 
contravention with the whole purpose of the first amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, in addition to the violation of the spirit of the Bill 
of Rights, this legislation has practical problems. For example, what 
is a flag? Can you desecrate a picture of a flag? Can a flag with the 
wrong number of stripes or stars be desecrated?
  Mr. Speaker, during the Vietnam War, laws were passed prohibiting 
draft cards from being burned and protesters with great flourish would 
say that they were burning their draft cards and offend everybody, but 
then nobody would know whether it was a draft card or just a piece of 
paper. Mr. Speaker, what happens if you desecrate your own flag in 
private? Are you subject to criminal prosecution if someone finds out?
  And finally, Mr. Speaker, I feel compelled to comment on the 
ridiculous suggestions that stealing and destroying someone's personal 
property is protected if that property happens to be a flag. That is 
wrong. It is theft and destruction of personal property. What this 
legislation is aimed at is criminalizing political speech. And so we 
should not politicize criminal speech we disagree with just because we 
have the votes.
  I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that we would defeat the resolution.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham), the author of 
the resolution.
  (Mr. CUNNINGHAM asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, my friend on the other side mentioned a 
gentleman from the Tuskegee Airmen, a very honored group. As a matter 
of fact, there is a chapter in San Diego. I spoke to them about this 
resolution in San Diego years ago. They support this resolution. They 
are good friends of mine. These are the men that fought against racism 
and flew P-51s in WWII. Not a single bomber was lost while the Tuskegee 
Airmen escorted them.
  Opponents say that this is frivolous, that we are offering a 
frivolous amendment. In the Tuskegee Airmen letter, it said that this 
for the first time was denying first amendment rights. It is not. For 
200 years-plus, this was tradition in our country. Abraham Lincoln, 
Washington, Jefferson, yes, and even Betsy Ross knew the threads that 
held this country together. During the Civil War, it was a death 
penalty to desecrate the flag. No one is asking us to do this. As a 
matter of fact, this vote today only gives the States the right to 
ratify this resolution. Even if we pass this here today, if the States 
say ``no,'' it will not pass.
  The gentleman from New York said, do we know democracy? Fifty State 
resolutions say that they will ratify this. That to me is democracy. 
Two hundred years of tradition wiped away by a 5 to 4 Supreme Court 
vote. That is democracy. Eighty percent of the American people support 
this bill. To me that is democracy. Two hundred Members of this House 
and one vote short in the other body on these resolutions. That is 
democracy.

                              {time}  1515

  Even the dissenters of the Supreme Court, and I quote, noted that 
``In times of national crisis, the flag inspires and motivates the 
average citizen to make personal sacrifices in order to achieve 
societal goals of importance.''
  Not just during war, but maybe there is an earthquake or a fire. It 
inspires people.
  So what do you think on the other side it does to these same people 
when you desecrate that symbol that lifts them up? And that is why this 
is important, Mr. Speaker. This is 200 years of tradition.
  What is patriotism? I told you in the rule vote about a young 
Hispanic, that other Hispanics were desecrating the flag and he grabbed 
the flag and he was beaten, and he stood up and said, ``That is why I 
immigrated to this country. This flag represents the traditions, the 
freedoms, the liberty that I stand for.'' And he did not let them burn 
it.
  I mentioned about ``Glory,'' African Americans that picked up the 
flag when one of their fellow soldiers fell, knowing that they would 
die. Ask those African American soldiers that charged that fort what 
they would think of you today rationalizing against this vote that it 
is a First Amendment vote. It is not.
  You have all kinds of actions. You can swear, you can yell, you can 
protest, you can hold up signs, but just do not desecrate the American 
flag.
  I have a story that I have, a friend that was a prisoner of war for 
6\1/2\ years. It took him 6 years to gather bits of thread to knit an 
American flag on the inside of his shirt. And that was fine, until the 
Vietnamese guards broke in, and they saw the POW with a flag that he 
hung above on the wall when they were able to get together.
  They saw the flag. They ripped it to shreds. They dragged the POW out 
and they beat him unconscious, so bad that the other prisoners did not 
think he would survive. And they comforted him as much as they could. 
He went back in the corner, and a few minutes later they looked and saw 
this broken-body POW drag himself to the center of the floor and 
started gathering those bits of thread to knit another American flag.
  That is action. Patriotism takes action, and it is action that is 
unfinished business at all times.
  This is not frivolous to us. I was shot down on my 300th mission over 
Vietnam. The actors that protested the war, that was their right under 
the First Amendment. I may disagree with them, but it was their right.
  Protest in any way you want, just do not burn the American flag. Vote 
yes on this resolution.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3\1/2\ minutes to the distinguished 
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished 
ranking member of the subcommittee for yielding me time.
  Mr. Speaker, this is about choices, and it is about differences of 
opinion, so I respect greatly my good friend from California for his 
desire to move on this legislation. But I think the American people 
need to be able to flush out what this debate is all about.
  H.J. Res. 4, were it to pass, would be the first time in United 
States history that the Constitution is amended in order to curtail an 
existing right. Just a few minutes ago on this floor I held up the 
Constitution, and I said that Americans need to begin to read the 
Constitution again, that is, to understand that it is a document to 
give rights, to protect as opposed to prohibit.
  We have seen the courts over the years refine our laws, and I have 
admitted on this floor that crying fire in a crowded theater certainly 
has been enunciated as being against the order, against law and order, 
and against the protection of the people. But this amendment does 
nothing to enhance the rights of Americans.
  I have heard my good friend utilize Hispanics and African Americans. 
I certainly welcome his right to express his viewpoints and whatever 
characterization he is trying to suggest. But I would offer to say that 
today we all stand as patriots and Americans, Hispanics, African 
Americans, Asians; in Texas, Anglos or Caucasians, Native Americans, 
new immigrants, people seeking opportunity.
  The real question is that there is no prohibition for some valiant 
soldier to rise to the occasion and take a flag across a battlefield. 
We do not stop that. We applaud that. Nor is there any prohibition 
likewise for someone who has a disagreement on the political philosophy 
of this Nation to be able to rise up in disagreement.
  Clearly, during the civil rights era, might I say, thank God for the 
First Amendment, that there were brave souls enough to speak against 
the horrificness of segregation. If you took the laws of the South, 
those people should have been jailed, as they were over and over again, 
you would have confirmed their being jailed for expressing their right 
to associate against segregation. So this is a matter of choice and a 
matter of disagreement.
  Two generals who were annunciated by my friends, General Powell 
indicating his position, and a different position, difference of 
opinion; and this is what this amendment stands for, not accepting 
differences of opinion.

[[Page H4821]]

  The Supreme Court in the Gregory Johnson case right out of Texas when 
this individual in 1989 burned a flag in front of the Republican 
convention, sounds horrific, sounds embarrassing, but yet the Court of 
Appeals and the Supreme Court indicated that the lower court's decision 
should be reversed, holding that the Texas law had been 
unconstitutionally applied to Johnson in violation of his First 
Amendment rights. The Supreme Court upheld that right for him to have 
political expression.
  I had such an amendment before the Committee on Rules that political 
content, speech, should be protected, but yet it was rejected.
  I would simply say, Mr. Speaker, in closing, it is a matter of choice 
and a matter of right. I beg my colleagues not to pass an amendment 
that restricts the Constitution. That would be wrong and misdirected.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.J. Res. 4, an amendment to the 
Constitution to prohibit physical desecration of the flag of the United 
States. I oppose H.J. Res. 4 because this resolution is an overly broad 
infringement on the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.


                               background

  This is not the first time this Chamber has considered this very 
Amendment to the Constitution. In 1990, Congress considered and 
rejected H.J. Res. 350--an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 
specifying that ``The Congress and the States have the power to 
prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.'' 
This failed to get the necessary two-thirds congressional majority by a 
vote of 254-177 in the House and 58-43 in the Senate. Again in 1995 
Congress considered the same amendment, H.J. Res. 79, but did not get 
the necessary two third majority vote of the Senate. In 1999, this 
Constitutional Amendment, then call H.J. Res. 33, also failed to be 
passed.
  If H.J. Res. 4 were to pass, it would mark the first time in United 
States' history that the Constitution is amended in order to curtail an 
existing right. In this case, the proposed amendment would severely 
narrow the scope of the First Amendment's protection of free expression 
codified in the Bill of Rights. This dangerous and unnecessary assault 
on our fundamental liberties would set a terrible precedent.
  I renew my opposition to this Constitutional Amendment. Despite my 
opposition, I agree with the proponents of this Constitutional 
Amendment that the American flag is a symbol of all of the principles 
and ideals that this country is built upon--freedom of assembly, 
freedom of religion, equality, and justice to name a few.


                flag desecration and the first amendment

  One of the most important ideals that the flag symbolizes is the 
First Amendment protection of freedom of speech. I believe that freedom 
of speech should be protected without condition. The Supreme Court of 
the United States, as it relates to desecration of the flag, appears to 
agree.
  In 1989 the Supreme Court addressed the issue of flag desecration as 
it related to the First Amendment. In 1989, the Supreme Court finally 
addressed whether a flag burning statute violates the First Amendment 
in Texas v. Johnson.
  In that case, Gregory Johnson was arrested for burning the U.S. flag 
during a demonstration outside of the Republican National Convention in 
Dallas. Mr. Johnson's actions were deemed to be in violation of Texas' 
``Venerated Objects'' law. The Texas statute outlawed ``intentionally 
or knowingly'' desecrating a ``national flag.'' The statute, defined 
the term ``desecrate'' to mean ``to deface, damage or otherwise 
physically mistreat in a way that the actor knows will seriously offend 
one or more persons likely to observe or discover his action.'' The 
Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas upheld Johnson's 
conviction under the Venerated Objects law. The Court of Criminal 
Appeals, Texas' highest criminal court, reversed the lower court 
decision, holding that the Texas law had been unconstitutionally 
applied to Johnson in violation of his First Amendment rights.
  The Supreme Court affirmed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling 
and determined that the First Amendment protects those citizens who 
burn the U.S. flag in political protest from prosecution. The Supreme 
Court ruled that Johnson's conduct constituted a symbolic expression 
that was both intentional and overly apparent. According to the Supreme 
Court, the Texas statute was ``content-based'' and, therefore, subject 
to ``the most exacting scrutiny test'' outlined in another Supreme 
Court case, Boos v. Barry. The Texas statute was deemed content-based 
because Johnson's guilt depended on the communicative aspect of his 
expressive conduct and was restricted because of the content of the 
message he conveyed. Furthermore, the Court stated that, although the 
Government has an interest in encouraging proper treatment of the flag, 
it was prohibited from criminally punishing a person for burning a flag 
as a means of political protest. The Court determined that the Texas 
statute was designed to prevent citizens from conveying ``harmful'' 
messages, reflecting a government interest that violated the First 
Amendment principle that government may not prohibit expression of an 
idea simply because it finds the idea offensive or disagrees with the 
idea.
  In response to the Johnson ruling, Congress passed the content-
neutral ``Flag Protection Act of 1989.'' The Flag Protection Act of 
1908 prohibited flag desecration under all circumstances by removing 
the requirement that the conduct cast contempt upon the flag. The 
statute also narrowly defined the term ``flag'' in an effort to avoid 
any vagueness problems. After the Flag Protection Act was passed, a 
series of the flag burnings took place in cities across. Criminal 
charges were brought against protesters who participated in flag 
burning incidents in Seattle and Washington, D.C. In both cases, the 
federal district courts relied on Johnson, striking down the 1989 law 
as unconstitutional when applied to political protesters.
  In U.S. v. Eichman, the Supreme Court protected First Amendment 
freedom of speech, and in a 5-4 decision upheld the lower federal court 
rulings and struck down the Flag Protection Act of 1989. The Court 
ruled, again, that the Government's stated interest in protecting the 
status of the flag ``as a symbol of our Nation and certain national 
ideals'' was a ``suppression of free expression'' that gave rise to an 
infringement of First Amendment rights. The Court acknowledged that the 
1989 law, unlike the Texas statute in Johnson, contained no content-
based limitations on the scope of protected conduct. However, the Court 
determined, the federal statute was subject to strict scrutiny because 
it could not be enforced without reference to the message of the 
``speaker.''
  The supporters of H.J. Res. 4 argue that flag desecration should not 
be considered speech within the meaning of First Amendment. On the 
contrary, it is precisely the expressive content of acts involving the 
flag that the amendment would target. These expressive acts are within 
the definition of speech. It is obvious that the criminal sanctions 
against flag burning in the Johnson case, and the criminal sanctions 
the sponsors of this amendment will likely seek to enact if H.J. Res. 4 
is adopted, are directly related to the expressive content of the act 
of burning the flag.
  Under current law ``[t]he flag, when it is in such condition that it 
is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a 
dignified way, preferably by burning.'' It is clear then, that the 
prohibitions against flag burning or ``physical desecration'' in H.J. 
Res. 4 are fundamentally content-based. Burning a flag to demonstrate 
respect or patriotism is permissible under current law. Should the 
proposed amendment pass, burning the flag to convey a political 
viewpoint of dissent or anger at the United States would become a 
crime.
  The airing of unpopular, dissenting views is an affirmative social 
good. Attempt to place limits on the manner of form of expressing 
unpopular views must inevitably translate into limits on the content of 
the unpopular views themselves. Likewise, limitations on the use of the 
flag in political demonstrations ultimately undermines First Amendment 
free speech.

  Adoption of H.J. Res. 4 will also create a number of dangerous 
precedents in our legal system. The Resolution will encourage further 
departures from the First Amendment and diminish respect for our 
Constitution. Doing so would make it unlikely to be that this would be 
the last time Congress acts to restrict our First Amendment liberties.


             h.j. res. 4 does not honor America's veterans

  It also flawed reasoning to argue that this amendment honors the 
courage and sacrifice of America's veterans. It may be the opinion of 
many American's that we should condemn those who would dishonor our 
nation's flag. However, H.J. Res. 4 will dishonor the Constitution and 
betray the very ideals for which so many veterans fought, and for which 
so many members of our armed forces made the ultimate sacrifice. In a 
May 18, 1999 letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, General Colin L. Powell 
said:

       The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech 
     and expression applies not just to that with which we agree 
     or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would 
     not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few 
     miscreants. The flag will by flying proudly long after they 
     have slunk away.

  Another honored member of our Armed Services, Jim Warner, a Vietnam 
veteran and prisoner of the North Vietnamese from October 1967 to March 
1973, wrote:

       The fact is, the principles for which we fought, for which 
     our comrades died, are advancing everywhere upon the Earth, 
     while the principles against which we fought are

[[Page H4822]]

     everywhere discredited and rejected. The flag burners have 
     lost, and their defeat is the most fitting and thorough 
     rebuke of their principles which the human could devise. Why 
     do we need to do more? An act intended merely as an insult is 
     not worthy of our fallen comrades. It is the sort of thing 
     our enemies did to us, but we are not them, and we must 
     conform to a different standard. . . . Now, when the justice 
     of our principles is everywhere vindicated, the cause of 
     human liberty demands that this amendment be rejected. 
     Rejecting this amendment would not mean that we agree with 
     those who burned our flag, or even that they have been 
     forgiven. It would, instead, tell the world that freedom of 
     expression means freedom, even for those expressions we find 
     repugnant.

  The flag is a symbol of our freedoms. The right to speak openly, even 
if that speech is unpopular, is a freedom. As we consider this 
Amendment we are faced with a difficult question: Do we protect a 
symbol of freedom of speech, or do we protect free speech itself? When 
given the choice, I choose to protect freedom itself over a symbol of 
freedom.
  Mr. Speaker, while many Americans find desecration of the flag 
offensive or distasteful, the strength of our nation lies in our 
ability to tolerate dissent and allow free speech especially when we 
disagree. We should not let a handful of offensive individuals cause us 
to surrender the very freedoms that make us a beacon of liberty for the 
rest of the world. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote no 
on H.J. Res. 4.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
  Mr. Speaker, the word seems to be around here that the Supreme Court 
decisions are sacrosanct and we should never amend the Constitution 
when the Congress and the several States believe the Supreme Court is 
wrong. I believe the Supreme Court is wrong in this, and that is why 
this amendment is before us.
  But I point out that in three of the 17 instances since the Bill of 
Rights was ratified, the Congress and the States have amended the 
Constitution to reverse Supreme Court decisions. The 11th Amendment 
reversed the decision relative to the judicial power of the United 
States. The 14th Amendment reversed the Dred Scott decision. The 16th 
Amendment reversed the decision on the income tax. So, three of the 17 
amendments that have been ratified since 1791 have reversed Supreme 
Court decisions that the Congress and the States have thought were 
erroneous.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. 
Pence).
  (Mr. PENCE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. PENCE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
  I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, I think this is a great debate. As a 
member of the Committee on the Judiciary, as someone trained in 
constitutional law, I find the passion that I hear on this floor today 
for the First Amendment truly inspiring, and I respect it immensely.
  In fact, would that we had heard that same passion for protecting the 
free speech rights of Americans when last year this Congress adopted 
severe limitations on campaign speech in the so-called campaign finance 
reform legislation. But that is a battle for another branch of this 
government and another day.
  I rise today, rather, Mr. Speaker, to try and express from my heart 
what I believe this amendment means to millions of patriotic Americans 
who support it, and I do so with a sincere heart, to speak to those 
millions of patriotic Americans who oppose it.
  After surviving the bloodiest battlefield since Gettysburg, a squad 
of Marines trudged up Mount Suribachi on Sulfur Island with a simple 
task: to raise the American flag above the devastation below. When the 
flag was raised by Sergeant Mike Strank and his men, history records 
that a thunderous cheer rose from the troops on land and on sea, in 
foxholes and on stretchers. Hope returned to that field of battle when 
the American flag began flapping in the wind.
  It is written, Mr. Speaker, that without a vision, the people perish. 
The flag was the vision that inspired and rallied our troops on Iwo 
Jima, and I would offer to you humbly today, the flag is still the 
vision for Americans who cherish those who stood ready to make the 
necessary sacrifices. It may well be why every single veterans group in 
America is scoring the vote in favor of the flag resolution today.
  I would offer that by adopting this flag protection amendment, we 
will raise Old Glory again. We will raise her above the decisions of 
the judiciary that was both wrong on the law and on history. We will 
raise the flag above the cynicism of our times. We will say to my 
generation of Americans those most unwelcome of words, there are 
limits. Out of respect for those who serve beneath it and for those who 
died within the sight of it, we must say there are boundaries necessary 
to the survival of freedom.
  Let us raise the American flag to her Old Glory again.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Snyder).
  Mr. SNYDER. Mr. Speaker, we are gathered here today to debate a 
constitutional amendment that would restrict the right of an American 
to make a foolish, foolish mistake with his own property. My primary 
objection to this amendment is that it will give government a tool with 
which to prosecute Americans with minority views, particularly at times 
of great national division, behavior that would have been perceived as 
patriotic if done by the majority.
  Unfortunately, our history has abundant examples of patriotism being 
used to hurt those who express views in disagreement with that of the 
majority. Let me share with you some news stories taken from the New 
York Times in years of great strife in America.
  The first one I would like to read is from April 7, 1917, 1917, 
headline: ``Diners Resent Slight to the Anthem. Attack a Man and Two 
Women Who Refuse to Stand When It Is Played. There was much excitement 
in the main dining room at Rectors last night following the playing of 
the Star Spangled Banner. Frederick Boyd, a former reporter on the New 
York Call, a Socialist newspaper, was dining with Miss Jessie Ashley 
and Miss May Towle, both lawyers and suffragists. The three, alone of 
those in the room, remained seated. There were quiet, then loud and 
vehement protests, but they kept their chairs.
  ``The angry diners surrounded Boyd and the two women and blows were 
struck back and forth, the women fighting valiantly to defend Boyd. He 
cried out he was an Englishman and did not have to get up, but the 
crowd would not listen to explanation. Boyd was severely beaten when 
the head waiter succeeded in reaching his side. Other waiters closed in 
and the fray was stopped.
  ``The guests insisted upon the ejection of Boyd and his companions 
and they were asked to leave. They refused to do so, and they were 
escorted to the street and turned over to a policeman who took Boyd to 
the West 47th Street Station, charged with disorderly conduct.
  ``Before the magistrate, Boyd repeated that he did not have to rise 
at the playing of the National Anthem, but the court told him that 
while there was no legal obligation, it was neither prudent nor 
courteous not to do so in these tense times, and he was found guilty of 
disorderly conduct and released on suspended sentence.''
  Another one, July 2, 1917, headline: ``Boston Peace Parade Mobbed. 
Soldiers and Sailors Break Up Socialist Demonstration and Rescue Flag. 
Socialist Headquarters Ransacked and Contents Burned, Many Arrests for 
Fighting.
  ``Riotous scenes attended a Socialist parade today which was 
announced as a peace demonstration. The ranks of the marchers were 
broken up by self-organized squads of uniformed soldiers and sailors. 
Red flags and banners bearing socialistic mottos were trampled on, and 
literature and furnishings in the Socialist headquarters in Park Square 
were thrown into the street and burned.
  ``At Scollay Square there was a similar scene. The American flag at 
the head of the line was seized by the attacking party and the band, 
which had been playing `The Marseillaise' with some interruptions, was 
forced to play `The Star Spangled Banner' while cheers were given for 
the flag.''
  The last one, from March 26, 1918.

                              {time}  1530

  ``Pro-Germans Mobbed in Middle West. Disturbances Start in Ohio and 
are Renewed in Illinois. Woman among Victims.

[[Page H4823]]

  ``Five businessmen of Delphos, a German settlement in western Allen 
County near here, accused of pro-Germanism, were hunted out by a 
volunteer vigilance committee of 400 men and 50 women of the town, 
taken into a brilliantly lit downtown street and forced to kiss the 
American flag tonight under pain of being hanged from nearby telephone 
poles.''
  What do these old stories from the New York Times have to do with 
this very important and heartfelt debate today? The decision we make 
today, it seems to me, is a balancing, a weighing of what best 
preserves freedom for Americans. There may well be a decrease in public 
deliberate incidents of flag desecration, acts that we all deplore, if 
this amendment becomes part of our Constitution.
  On the other side of our ledger, if this amendment becomes part of 
our Constitution, in my opinion, it will become a constitutionally 
sanctioned tool for the majority to tyrannize the minority. As 
evidenced by these news stories from a time of great divisiveness in 
our Nation's history, government, which ultimately is human beings with 
all of our strengths and weaknesses, will use this amendment to 
question the patriotism of vocal minorities, will use it to find 
excuses to legally attack demonstrations which utilize the flag in an 
otherwise appropriate manner.
  Let me give an example. I was at a rural county fair in Arkansas 
several years ago, and a group had a booth with a great patriotic 
display in addition to handouts and signs. They had laid across the 
table like a tablecloth an American flag. I knew these people thought 
this to be a very patriotic part of the display. I watched as one of 
the volunteers sat on the table, oblivious to the fact he was sitting 
on our American flag. His action was a completely innocent mistake, and 
he did not realize such behavior is inconsistent with good flag 
etiquette.
  I believe that had this group been a fringe group, those with views 
contrary to the great majority, and should we have laws prohibiting 
physical desecration of the flag, such an action as I described would 
not be excused as an innocent mistake. Instead, a minority group might 
be prosecuted, out of anger, out of disgust, but make no mistake, the 
motivation for such a prosecution would be that they hold a minority 
view.
  Mr. Speaker, I do not think our Constitution will be improved nor our 
freedoms protected by placing within it enhanced opportunity for 
minority views to be legally attacked, ostensibly because of their 
misuse of the flag, but in reality because of views that many consider 
out of the mainstream.
  I urge a ``no'' vote on the proposed amendment, and for the same 
reasons, a ``no'' vote on the substitute.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 7 minutes to the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), my distinguished predecessor as chairman of 
the Committee on the Judiciary.
  (Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin for 
yielding time to me.
  Mr. Speaker, one of the great aspects of the privilege of being a 
Congressman is that we get to debate some pretty noble issues. We get 
to engage in them. This is certainly one. I am delighted this debate is 
occurring.
  In my view, there is something larger at work here than simply the 
flag itself. I think this amendment offered by the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Cunningham) is an effort by mainstream Americans to 
reassert community standards. This bill is a protest against the 
vulgarization of our society.
  In our popular culture, decent standards are under constant and 
withering assault. This amendment is an assertion that the community 
has some rights, too, and that with rights go responsibilities which 
help provide a moral compass for our ``anything goes'' society.
  This amendment partially corrects the oversight in our Constitution 
whereby we have a Bill of Rights, oh, do we have a Bill of Rights, but 
no bill of responsibilities. Then, of course, a right is meaningless 
unless we are all responsible for respecting it, so one depends on the 
other.
  This amendment asserts that our flag is not simply a piece of cloth, 
but like a photograph of our families on our desks, it symbolizes 
certain unifying ideals that most Americans hold sacred.
  Our national motto, ``E Pluribus Unum,'' underscores the fact that we 
are a thoroughly diverse Nation. If we look around this room, not at 
this moment, but when we are all present, we see a wildly diverse group 
of Irish and Greeks and Poles and African Americans and Hispanics, et 
cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Our whole country is a diverse exposition 
of people coming together, proud of their ethnicity, of their language, 
their native music, their culture.
  But at the same time, there are unifying principles, things we share 
together. That is what ``E Pluribus Unum'' means, ``one from many.'' We 
are still one Nation. We are all blessed, no matter our background, 
with the rule of law. That is a unity worth celebrating, not 
denigrating.
  What is it about this swatch of fabric we call a flag? What gives it 
such beauty and power as it floats in the breeze? Well, men have 
followed it into battle again and again in defense of freedom, draped 
it over the coffins of heroes returned.
  I remember standing at a gravesite in Normandy and looking at the 
cross. It says, ``Here lies in honored glory, a comrade in arms known 
but to God.'' And decorating that sparse, grim grave was a little flag 
that somebody had put near the cross. I looked at that and I thought 
that little flag was saying thank you for all America to that unknown 
soldier, thank you and God grant you peace.
  If we ask an old veteran attending a Memorial Day ceremony as he 
struggles to his feet to salute the flag, what does he think of when we 
see the flag, he will tell us freedom, sacrifice, and hope. Yes, it is 
called Old Glory because it is old; it has been handed down from 
generation to generation, and Glory because it stands for the most 
precious ideas human beings have ever known.
  Justice Frankfurter in a 1940 case said, ``We live by symbols.'' He 
went on to say, ``The ultimate foundation of a free society is the 
binding tie of cohesive sentiment.''
  Woven into the fabric of the flag is the collective memory of America 
from Bunker Hill to Baghdad. America lacks the cultural homogeneity 
that China or Japan or even France has, but as Americans, we share the 
unity of the Declaration.
  But cohesive sentiment is what the flag symbolizes, and as tombstones 
are not for toppling nor churches for vandalizing, flags are not for 
burning. Burn a $10 bill and you violate the law. Walk down 
Constitution Avenue at high noon without your clothes on and you will 
soon learn the limits of self-expression. Free speech is not absolute, 
never has been. We have slander and libel laws, copyright laws, and 
many other limitations.
  This amendment does not trivialize our Constitution, far from it. It 
recognizes that nothing is more important in a democratic society than 
emphasizing the tradition of responsibility that nourishes our liberty.
  Saul Bellow, the novelist, said years ago, ``A great deal of 
intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is 
great.'' When I hear my learned friend, the gentleman from New York 
(Mr. Nadler), managing this bill on the other side of the aisle, saying 
that never in 200 years have we attempted to amend the first amendment, 
I refer him to the 13th amendment and the 14th amendment, 1865-1868, 
and suggest that maybe some law schools are better than others.
  In any event, let me close with a paragraph from an article that I 
have saved over the years written by a woman named Diane Schneider. 
``You, of course, have the right to burn Old Glory. If you are 
compelled to so express your disdain, if you can find no civil outlet 
in speech or song, you are protected by law. But if I am there when you 
put a match to the colors, know this: I will take the flaming fabric in 
my hands, crush the embers and hold the star-spangled banner as high as 
I can in the free wind.''
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green).
  Mr. GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding 
time to me, my New York colleague. He and I both came to Congress 
together.

[[Page H4824]]

  I rise in support of and cosponsor this resolution which proposes an 
amendment to the Constitution allowing Congress to ban the desecration 
of our an American flag. You can speak your mind, but do not burn our 
flag.
  I am a strong supporter of our first amendment rights to the freedom 
of expression. However, we do have limits. If I burn my car, protesting 
the auto maker, I am fine. If I burn a U.S. dollar, it is illegal.
  For instance, court-made law restricts our freedom of speech as 
limited by the example given in law school classes about not screaming 
fire in a theater. That is court-made law that restricts my freedom of 
speech.
  What we are trying to do today with this amendment is similar. We 
want the authority to enact legislation to say that desecration or 
burning the symbol of our country is unjust, just as yelling fire in a 
crowded theater is unjust.
  A hallowed symbol like our flag deserves to be respected and 
protected as a national treasure. Our flag represents a principle our 
Nation was founded on and many people have given their lives for. I 
believe it should be afforded the maximum protection we can give it 
legislatively.
  For these reasons, I am proud to be a cosponsor, and urge my 
colleagues to join me in supporting it.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Virginia (Mr. Forbes).
  Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, the issue that we face this afternoon is 
very simple. It is whether or not the American flag is of such 
importance to the American people that their elected Representatives 
should have the right to protect the desecration of that flag.
  I would submit that the answer to that is deafening from voices from 
every military base, local barbershop, restaurant, church, school, or 
veterans group in America.
  Last week I had the privilege to fly out to the USS Roosevelt as she 
returned home from her great efforts in Iraq. Just before that great 
aircraft carrier made its turn into the pier, all of those sailors in 
white uniforms circled around the aircraft carrier and in each of their 
hands was an American flag. As they turned and looked at the pier, they 
all raised their flags up, and the people on the pier raised their 
flags up in a great symbol of unity.
  If we ask any of them if the flag is worth protecting, they will tell 
us that we are absolutely doing the right thing.
  But Mr. Speaker, I will tell the Members that the testimony that was 
most compelling to me did not come from any of these, or any of the 
testimony before the subcommittee or the full committee, but it came 
really in the unintentional testimony of my 17-year-old son, Justin, 
that convinced me of what we were doing today and that it was the right 
thing.
  Justin is like a lot of teenagers, he does not like politics and his 
greatest love is basketball. My wife and I were therefore surprised 
when we discovered a few weeks ago that he had written an essay that 
had been selected as the number one essay on patriotism in Virginia by 
the State PTA.
  He wrote that he was just an ordinary teenager who spent most of his 
time talking about girls, playing basketball, or fixing up his 1981 
Jeep. He said he had an ordinary grandfather who was neither richer, 
smarter, nor better-looking than most people. Yet when his grandfather 
was 19 years old, he left for the Army only 3 days after he got 
married, and he ended up in a little place called Normandy. 
Fortunately, he arrived several weeks after the initial invasion, but 
Justin wrote that he could not get over the courage and commitment of 
19-year-old boys coming off landing craft.
  He wrote about September 11, when he looked at ordinary men and women 
who did extraordinary things across the country, and the thing that 
united them was the American flag.
  Mr. Speaker, Justin concluded by saying that most of our heroes are 
very ordinary people who do very extraordinary things. He said that 
even though he might be ordinary, there was one time when he became 
very extraordinary, and that was when he held his flag high. That 
united him with his grandfather, it united him with the victims of 9/
11, and it united him with all the other great heroes of this country.
  I agree with him. I think it is time we hold this flag up high. It is 
time we say it really is a special piece of cloth.
  Mr. Speaker, I think it is time we pass this legislation.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield 3 minutes to the 
distinguished gentlewoman from Indiana (Ms. Carson).
  Ms. CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, certainly I am totally 
appreciative of my dear friend, the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Nadler), yielding time to me.
  When I first came to Congress, and each Congress since, I raised my 
right hand and swore to uphold and defend our Constitution. I rise 
today in the spirit of that oath.
  Flag desecration offends all of us. Above all, we are a nation of 
law. Our Supreme Court has consistently held that behavior to be 
political expression, the very sort of unpopular speech the first 
amendment was intended to protect. No matter how rude or unpleasant, 
political expression of opposition to the government is constitutional.
  This Congress, Mr. Speaker, is made up of people from all walks of 
life, of all political, religious, and philosophical persuasions. That 
does not deduce our patriotism among any of us. I was not born Julia 
Carson; I was married into the family of Carsons. My husband, Sam 
Carson, was a 100 percent service-connected Korean War veteran. My son, 
Sam Carson, is also a veteran of the Marine Corps.
  Once again this week, in the fifth Congress in a row, in anticipation 
of Flag Day we are called upon to consider a bill to bring about an 
amendment to the Constitution to get around the Supreme Court's 
repeated holdings that tampering with, insulting, or defiling the flag 
is protected conduct under the first amendment, the bedrock of our Bill 
of Rights.

                              {time}  1545

  I heard one of my distinguished colleagues indicate how good it is 
for soldiers to come back into this country and be met by the waving of 
the flag.
  I was very troubled recently to see on the news where so many of our 
reservists who were called up and who leave families behind, families 
are in dire straits economically. One particular reservist left a 
$25,000 job to serve his country and his family; his wife and four 
children had to move in with her parents in very small and cramped 
quarters. Yet we do a tax cut and cut out the families of those who are 
sent to protect the freedom of Iraq and the freedom of America.
  Over the years we have made constructive changes to our Constitution. 
But in the 200 years we have enjoyed its protections, we have never 
before changed the meaning of the Bill of Rights, not so much as a 
single comma, recognizing and protecting that document as our freedom 
shield. I believe that this is no time to change the first amendment's 
protection of freedom and expression, so basic and so critical to the 
way American democracy works. This is brought home especially by the 
sacrifice of soldiers fighting and dying even today to ensure that 
Iraqi people have the right to speak and live freely and the right to 
protest against their own government. This is a fundamental value of 
freedom's promise, no less in Iraq, no less in the United States.
  When first I came to Congress, and each Congress since, I raised my 
right hand and swore to uphold and defend our Constitution. Mr. 
Speaker, I rise today in the spirit of that oath.
  Flag desecration offends us all but, above all, we are a nation of 
law. Our Supreme Court has consistently held that behavior to be 
political expression, the very sort of unpopular speech the first 
amendment was intended to protect--no matter how rude or unpleasant--
political expression of opposition to the government.
  Once again this week, in the fifth Congress in a row, in anticipation 
of Flag Day we are called upon to consider a bill to bring about an 
amendment to the Constitution to get around the Supreme Court's 
repeated holdings that tampering with, insulting or defiling the flag 
is protected conduct under the first amendment, the bedrock of our Bill 
of Rights.
  The main objective of the first amendment is to stop Congress and the 
courts from picking and choosing what kinds of speech are permitted. It 
is clear that what would be regulated by this amendment is not physical 
desecration of the flag, but the sentiments expressed by the action.
  Over the years we have made constructive changes to our Constitution 
but in the 210

[[Page H4825]]

years we have enjoyed its protections we have never before changed the 
meaning of our Bill of Rights--not so much as a single comma--
recognizing and protecting that document as our freedom's shield.
  I believe that this is no time to change the first amendment's 
protection of freedom of expression, so basic and so critical to the 
way American democracy works. This is brought home especially by the 
sacrifice of our soldiers fighting and dying--even today--to assure the 
Iraqi people the right to speak and live freely, and the right to 
protest against their own government. This is a fundamental value of 
freedom's promise, no less so in places where we would see freedom take 
new root than here at home.
  However offensive such conduct may feel, the answer is not to 
restrict the freedom to speak. Rather, the answer is to remind our 
fellow citizens of how important unfettered political speech is to our 
democracy, how fundamental to our freedom. Supreme Court Justice Robert 
Jackson put it well back in 1943--during World War II: ``Freedom to 
differ is not limited to things that do not matter. That would be a 
mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to 
differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.''
  Sometimes we make a law because we can and not because we should, a 
powerful temptation we should resist. Changing the meaning of the 
Constitution to address hateful conduct by a tiny minority is 
unnecessary.
  Together we have weathered severe crises over the past 2 years, proof 
that we can withstand the ugly actions of a few misguided protesters. 
Secretary of State Colin Powell said it well, ``I would not amend that 
great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be 
flying proudly long after they have slunk away.''
  Patriotism that forces reverence for national symbols at the expense 
of vital constitutional rights is not what our country is about.
  I will honor and celebrate the flag by taking a stand for liberty and 
to support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by voting to defeat 
this proposal.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
  Mr. Speaker, I am getting a little sick of hearing that this is an 
assault on the first amendment. We are using constitutional processes 
to overturn a Supreme Court decision that made no sense.
  Now, last year a lot of my colleagues, not me, voted for a campaign 
finance reform bill that significantly restricted people's rights to 
express themselves on political issues. And that was emaciated by a 
lower Federal court, and it probably will be declared unconstitutional 
as well by the Supreme Court. So let us be consistent, the first 
amendment is not absolute.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King).
  Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me 
time. I wish to associate myself with the gentleman's remarks just 
previous and also restate the Supreme Court has changed the meaning of 
the Bill of Rights. That is why we are here today.
  I am a cosponsor of House Joint Resolution 4, which empowers Congress 
to protect the paramount symbol of liberty of the United States by 
providing that ``the Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical 
desecration of the flag of the United States.''
  To desecrate the American flag is equal to inciting a riot. Those 
that burn the flag do so for the sole purpose of striking horror into 
the hearts of veterans, members of armed services and patriots across 
the country.
  For over half a century, every single State in the Union, and later 
the Federal Government, outlawed flag desecration without 
constitutional objection. Such laws have now been negated by a single 
opinion that the five Justices of the United States Supreme Court 
rendered in 1989 in Texas v. Johnson.
  Countless Americans have fought and died under our flag. Our flag 
stands for our freedom as a Nation, a bulwark signifying not only our 
sovereignty but our resolve as a people against tyranny and terror. We 
must restore our great symbol of liberty to its rightful place under 
the laws so that our ancestors and immigrants, our friends and enemies, 
will have no doubt about its value, its meaning, or the very dear price 
paid to preserve our freedom.
  I witnessed the desecration of hundreds of flags in this city this 
year. It is a sad and sickening sight. I urge you to vote for H.J. Res. 
4 to protect our flag that Americans have fought and died for.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
  Mr. Speaker, last year this House and the other body and the 
President all cooperated in passing legislation to improve campaign 
financing techniques. Some people say that regulated speech. What it 
did was regulate expenditures of money. Many people do not consider 
money as speech. It is a different issue.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. 
Tanner).
  (Mr. TANNER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose what I think is a well 
intentioned but misguided effort here to amend the first amendment, the 
Bill of Rights.
  Every nation on Earth that I know of has a flag. There is only one 
that has a bill of rights and that is us. And that is the difference 
here. Every repressive regime I know of throughout history has tried in 
some form or another to repress the destruction of whatever they have 
consider symbolic. Again, every nation on Earth has a flag. There is 
only one that has a bill of rights, and that is us. We are talking 
about the first amendment.
  For Congress to knowingly give to the government the power to 
prescribe what is permissible protest when that protest does not affect 
any other freedoms, nor does it physically harm anybody else, but yet 
give to the government the right to prescribe limits on that I think is 
wrong. And I just say this, once we breach the Bill of Rights, they 
then become relevant. Up until now they are not. We breach those, they 
become relevant, believe you me it will not be long before there will 
be some on this floor talking about the second amendment and why we 
need to change that.
  So I want all the conservative thinkers in this body and around the 
country to think about what we are doing. As a symbol, we are going 
over ground that has not been plowed. Every nation has a flag only. One 
has a bill of rights, and that is why I think this is a misdirected 
effort.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Indiana (Mr. Hostettler).
  Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Speaker, even though I generally do not support 
amending the Constitution, today I rise in strong support of this 
proposed constitutional amendment.
  We have come here today because five individuals in black robes have 
opined that we must tolerate flag desecration as protected speech. As a 
result of that opinion, 48 States and the District of Columbia have 
decided not to enforce their own laws prohibiting the desecration of 
the flag of the United States of America.
  Clearly, I believe the Supreme Court has it wrong. The flag is a 
unique symbol that merits our special recognition. The flag represents 
our freedom, our history, and our values as a Nation. In battles 
spanning 2 centuries in all corners of the globe, the flag has served 
as an inspiration and rallying point for U.S. soldiers fighting for the 
ideals it embodies.
  More than a million Americans have given their lives in defense of 
our flag and our unique way of life. Many of those who gave the last 
full measure of devotion in serving their Nation were honored with a 
flag draped over their caskets. This proposed amendment places the 
debate exactly where our framers intended for it to take place, in the 
town halls across America. It is the American people, not the Supreme 
Court, that have the ultimate responsibility to answer constitutional 
questions. And that is encouraging to me, Mr. Speaker, because as it 
was suggested earlier that we act today to amend the Constitution 
because of the vulgarization of society, I believe we are here actually 
today because of the facilitation of the vulgarization of society by 
the highest Court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States.
  Forty-nine State legislatures, including my home State of Indiana, 
have passed resolutions asking that Congress approve this amendment to 
the Constitution. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, I find the words of the Pledge 
of Allegiance telling: ``I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United 
States of America and to the republic for which it stands.''
  I would underscore that this simple phrase recited every morning in 
this

[[Page H4826]]

very Chamber pledges our allegiance not only to the Republic but to the 
flag itself. Mr. Speaker, others will argue that the ideals of the flag 
are the only things that are worth protecting. I must respectfully 
disagree with their argument.
  The flag itself occupies a unique place in our Republic. It is the 
one symbol that merits our allegiance. Why do we continue to pledge our 
devotion and support to a flag if we are not willing to protect it from 
desecration? I urge my colleagues to support the proposed amendment.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished 
gentlewoman from Ohio (Mrs. Jones).
  (Mrs. JONES of Ohio asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend her remarks.)
  Mrs. JONES of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I thank the ranking member for 
yielding me time.
  When I was a little girl in elementary school and I learned the 
Pledge of Allegiance, I was so very proud. Even in my French class our 
French teacher taught us how to say the Pledge of Allegiance in French. 
As I stand here today, I know I can still remember those words.
  I am so pleased to hear so many talk about allegiance to the flag and 
to the Republic, and they drape themselves in the flag and talk about 
all these issues that are important to them; yet I have stood here on 
the floor of the House and listened to my colleagues pass legislation 
that denies liberty and justice for all in this country.
  I have seen us pass legislation that denies liberty and justice for 
all with regard to the child care credit. I have seen them deny liberty 
and justice for all for a whole lot of reasons. But what I say to you 
today is this debate is not about that piece of material up there, the 
flag that we all revel. This debate is merely about whether we are 
going to stand here and be divided, one side or the other, about 
whether or not people have a right to free expression and a right to 
free speech. And I stand with those who are entitled to free speech and 
a right to speak out on their own.
  I love the flag. All of us love the flag. But let us not fool anybody 
about why we are debating the issue. It would be great. I even heard 
someone talk about African American soldiers. My father was an African 
American soldier. He is 83 years old. He was denied his rights of 
liberty and justice because he had to serve in a segregated Army, and 
he talks to me about that all the time.
  So let us get real. Let us talk about the facts, and let us say the 
only reason we are up here debating this issue is because there are 
some who want to deny people the right of free expression and the right 
of free speech. So I stand here opposed to this resolution.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Paul).
  (Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment. I do not believe 
much good will come of it. A lot of good intentions are put into the 
effort, but I see no real benefit.
  It was mentioned earlier that those who supported campaign finance 
laws were inconsistent. And others would say that we do not have to 
worry about the first amendment when we are dealing with the flag 
amendments. But I would suggest there is another position. Why can we 
not be for the first amendment when it comes to campaign finance reform 
and not ask the government to regulate the way we spend our money and 
advertise, at the same time we protect the first amendment here?
  It seems that that consistency is absent in this debate.
  It is said by the chairman of the committee that he does not want to 
hear much more about the first amendment. We have done it before, so 
therefore it must be okay. But we should not give up that easily.
  He suggested that we have amended the Constitution before when the 
courts have ruled a certain way. And he says absolutely right, we can 
do that and we have done that. But to use the 16th amendment as a 
beautiful example of how the Congress solves problems, I would expect 
the same kind of dilemma coming out of this amendment as we have out of 
the 16th amendment which, by the way, has been questioned by some 
historians as being correctly ratified.
  I think one of our problems has been that we have drifted away from 
the rule of law, we have drifted away from saying that laws ought to be 
clear and precise and we ought to all have a little interpretation of 
the laws.
  The gentleman earlier had said that there are laws against slander so 
therefore we do violate the first amendment. Believe me, I have never 
read or heard about a legislative body or a judge who argued that you 
can lie and commit fraud under the first amendment. But the first 
amendment does say ``Congress shall write no laws.'' That is precise. 
So even the laws dealing with fraud and slander should be written by 
the States. This is not a justification for us to write an amendment 
that says Congress shall write laws restricting expression through the 
desecration of the flag.

                              {time}  1600

  So we do not know what the laws are, but when the laws are written, 
that is when the conflict comes.
  This amendment, as written so far, does not cause the conflict. It 
will be the laws that will be written and then we will have to decide 
what desecration is and many other things.
  Earlier in the debate it was said that an individual may well be 
unpatriotic if he voted against a Defense appropriation bill. I have 
voted against the Defense appropriation bill because too much money in 
the Defense budget goes to militarism that does not really protect our 
country. I do not believe that is being unpatriotic.
  Mr. Speaker, let me summarize why I oppose this Constitutional 
amendment. I have myself served 5 years in the military, and I have 
great respect for the symbol of our freedom. I salute the flag, and I 
pledge to the flag. I also support overriding the Supreme Court case 
that overturned State laws prohibiting flag burning. Under the 
Constitutional principle of federalism, questions such as whether or 
not Texas should prohibit flag burning are strictly up to the people of 
Texas, not the United States Supreme Court. Thus, if this amendment 
simply restored the State's authority to ban flag burning, I would 
enthusiastically support it.
  However, I cannot support an amendment to give Congress new power to 
prohibit flag burning. I served my country to protect our freedoms and 
to protect our Constitution. I believe very sincerely that today we are 
undermining to some degree that freedom that we have had all these many 
years.
  Mr. Speaker, we have some misfits who on occasion burn the flag. We 
all despise this behavior, but the offensive conduct of a few does not 
justify making an exception to the First Amendment protections of 
political speech the majority finds offensive. According to the pro-
flag amendment Citizens Flag Alliance, there has been only 16 
documented cases of flag burning in the last two years, and the 
majority of those cases involved vandalism or some other activity that 
is already punishable by local law enforcement!
  Let me emphasize how the First Amendment is written, ``Congress shall 
make no law.'' That was the spirit of our Nation at that time: 
``Congress shall make no laws.''
  Unfortunately, Congress has long since disregarded the original 
intent of the Founders and has written a lot of laws regulating private 
property and private conduct. But I would ask my colleagues to remember 
that every time we write a law to control private behavior, we imply 
that somebody has to arrive with a gun, because if you desecrate the 
flag, you have to punish that person. So how do you do that? You send 
an agent of the government, perhaps an employee of the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Flags, to arrest him. This is in many ways 
patriotism with a gun--if your actions do not fit the official 
definition of a ``patriot,'' we will send somebody to arrest you.

  Fortunately, Congress has modals of flag desecration laws. For 
example, Sadam Hussein made desecration of the Iraq flag a criminal 
offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
  It is assumed that many in the military support this amendment, but 
in fact there are veterans who have been great heroes in war on both 
sides of this issue. I would like to quote a past national commander of 
the American Legion, Keith Kreul. He said:

       Our Nation was not founded on devotion to symbolic idols, 
     but on principles, beliefs and ideals expressed in the 
     Constitution and its Bill of Rights. American veterans who 
     have protected our banner in battle have not done so to 
     protect a golden calf. Instead, they carried the banner 
     forward with reverence for what it represents, our beliefs 
     and freedom for all. Therein lies the beauty of our flag. A 
     patriot cannot be created by legislation.


[[Page H4827]]


  Secretary of State, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and two-time 
winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Colin Powell has also 
expressed opposition to amending the constitution in this manner:

       I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer 
     out a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly long 
     after they have slunk away.

  Mr. Speaker, this amendment will not even reach the majority of cases 
of flag burning. When we see flag burning on television, it is usually 
not American citizens, but foreigners who have strong objections to 
what we do overseas, burning the flag. This is what I see on television 
and it is the conduct that most angers me.

  One of the very first laws that Red China passed upon assuming 
control of Hong Kong was to make flag burning illegal. Since that time, 
they have prosecuted some individuals for flag burning. Our State 
Department keeps records of how often the Red Chinese persecute people 
for burning the Chinese flag, as it considers those prosecutions an 
example of how the Red Chinese violate human rights. Those violations 
are used against Red China in the argument that they should not have 
most-favored-nation status. There is just a bit of hypocrisy among 
those members who claim this amendment does not interfere with 
fundamental liberties, yet are critical of Red China for punishing 
those who burn the Chinese flag.
  Mr. Speaker, this is ultimately an attack on private property. 
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression depend on property. We do 
not have freedom of expression of our religion in other people's 
churches; it is honored and respected because we respect the ownership 
of the property. The property conveys the right of free expression, as 
a newspaper would or a radio station. Once Congress limits property 
rights, for any cause, no matter how noble, it limits freedom.
  Some claim that this is not an issue of private property rights 
because the flag belongs to the country. The flag belongs to everybody. 
But if you say that, you are a collectivist. That means you believe 
everybody owns everything. So why do American citizens have to spend 
money to obtain, and maintain, a flag if the flag is community owned? 
If your neighbor, or the Federal Government, owns a flag, even without 
this amendment you do not have the right to go and burn that flag. If 
you are causing civil disturbances, you are liable for your conduct 
under state and local laws. But this whole idea that there could be a 
collective ownership of the flag is erroneous.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, I wish to point out that by using the word 
``desecration,'' which is traditionally reserved for religious symbols, 
the authors of this amendment are placing the symbol of the state on 
the same plane as the symbol of the church. The practical effect of 
this is to either lower religious symbols to the level of the secular 
state, or raise the state symbol to the status of a holy icon. Perhaps 
this amendment harkens back to the time when the state was seen as 
interchangeable with the church. In any case, those who believe we have 
``no king but Christ'' should be troubled by this amendment.
  We must be interested in the spirit of our Constitution. We must be 
interested in the principles of liberty. I therefore urge my colleagues 
to oppose this amendment. Instead, my colleagues should work to restore 
the rights of the individual states to ban flag burning, free from 
unconstitutional interference by the Supreme Court.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Ackerman).
  (Mr. ACKERMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I love our flag and that for which it 
stands. It stands for a Nation founded by people fleeing from an 
oppressive regime. It stands for freedoms, not the least of which is 
the freedom of opinion and the unimpeded expression thereof, including 
the freedom to protest.
  Bear in mind, this was a Nation founded by protesters. When our 
Founding Fathers sought to guarantee these freedoms, they created not a 
flag but a Constitution, debating the meaning of each and every word, 
every amendment, every one of which gives people rights. They did not 
debate a flag. The flag would become a symbol of these rights.
  There are those who would have fewer rights. Why? What is the threat 
to the Republic that drives us to erode the Bill of Rights?
  Well, someone burned the flag. Whatever happened to fighting to the 
death for somebody's right to disagree? We now choose instead to react 
by taking away a form of the right to protest. Most people abhor flag 
burners, but even a despicable, low-life malcontent has a right to 
disagree and disagree in an obnoxious fashion if he wishes. That is the 
true test of free expression, and we here are about to fail that test.
  These are rare but vile acts of desecration that have been cited by 
those who would propose changing our founding document, but these acts 
do not harm anybody. If a jerk burns a flag, America is not threatened. 
If a jerk burns a flag, democracy is not under siege. If a jerk burns a 
flag, freedom is not at risk. We are offended. To change our 
Constitution because someone offends us is, in itself, unconscionable.
  Hitler banned the burning of the flag. Mussolini banned the burning 
of the flag. Saddam banned the burning of the flag. Dictatorships fear 
flag burners. The reason our flag is different is because it stands for 
burning the flag.
  Though we in proper suits may decry the protests and the protestors 
and the flag burners, protecting their right is the true stuff of a 
democracy. The real threat to our society is not the occasional burning 
of a flag, but the permanent banning of the burners. The real threat is 
that some of us have now mistaken the flag for a religious icon to be 
worshiped as pagans would, rather than to be kept as the beloved symbol 
of our freedom that is to be cherished.
  It is not the flag burners who threaten democracy. Rather, it is 
those who would deny them. In the name of our Founding Fathers, save us 
from those who would put up this defense.
  The Constitution was written by intellectual giants and is here today 
being nibbled by small men with press secretaries. If flag burners 
offend us, do not beat a cowardly retreat by rushing to ban them. 
Protesters, like grapes, cannot be eliminated by stomping on them. Meet 
their ideas with bigger ideas for an ever better America to protect the 
flag by protecting democracy, not by retreating from it.
  We cannot kill a flag. It is a symbol, and yes, patriots have died; 
but recall what they have died for. They have died for liberty. They 
have died for democracy. They have died for the right to speak out in 
protest. They have died for values.
  The flag is a symbol of those values. What they died for are American 
principles. Saying that people died for the flag is symbolic language. 
The Constitution gives us our rights. The Constitution guarantees our 
liberties. The Constitution embodies our freedoms. It is our substance. 
The flag is the symbol for which it stands.
  True patriots choose substance over symbolism. Diminish one right and 
it shall forever stand for less. Do not pass this amendment. Do not 
diminish the Constitution. Do not cheapen the flag.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte).
  (Mr. GOODLATTE asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my chairman for yielding me the 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution to amend the 
Constitution to give the Congress the authority to prevent the physical 
desecration of the American flag, and I would note the comments of the 
gentleman from New York, citing some dictators who have prohibited 
destroying flags, and would point out that many others of a very 
different mind-set have strongly supported this, including President 
Abraham Lincoln. Many justices of the Supreme Court, as disparate in 
their views as Earl Warren and William Rehnquist and Hugo Black have 
found that the laws of the many States prohibiting the desecration of 
the flag to be constitutional, and it is only because of a narrow five-
four majority at one moment in time in our Court's history, finding 
these laws to be unconstitutional and overturning the work of 48 States 
and the District of Columbia, that it is necessary for the Congress to 
address this.
  I would argue to the gentleman from Texas, for whom I have respect, 
that we are turning away from the rule of law when we do not recognize 
that with freedom comes responsibility, and we have always recognized 
in the first amendment that there are a number of instances in which 
free speech is limited. A person cannot shout fire in a crowded 
theater. They cannot engage in slander or libel. They cannot engage in 
fighting words. There are a number of such restrictions, and certainly, 
the prohibition on the physical act of destroying a flag should be 
included

[[Page H4828]]

amongst them because it is the equivalent of fighting words to burn a 
flag in front of a group of veterans who put their lives on the line 
for their country and fought for the freedom which that flag 
represents.
  This is a very basic, very straightforward amendment supported by the 
overwhelming majority of the American people, and I urge my colleagues 
to support this resolution.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4\1/2\ minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), the minority whip.
  (Mr. HOYER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, it has been said before and will be said 
again that everyone who speaks on this amendment loves this flag that 
hangs behind me as a symbol of the greatest democracy on the face of 
the earth, as a symbol of the country that has demonstrated throughout 
history the greatest countenance in the principles for which that flag 
stands.
  It gives me absolutely no pleasure to oppose this proposed 
constitutional amendment providing the physical desecration of our 
flag. I believe people ought not to engage in that kind of activity, 
but our flag is more than mere cloth. It is a universal symbol for 
freedom, democracy and liberty, and it will continue to be so for so 
long as the symbols for which it stands flies high in the hearts of 
every American. That is where it needs to fly high, in our hearts and 
in our intellect.
  Those who would desecrate it only seek to grab attention for 
themselves and inflame the passions of patriotic Americans. Without 
doubt, they deserve both our contempt and our pity for their stupidity, 
but while I appreciate and respect the motivations of those who offer 
and support this amendment, I will oppose it for the reasons so 
eloquently articulated by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) and 
Senator McConnell of Kentucky.
  In opposing a similar amendment a few years ago, Senator McConnell 
stated that it ``rips the fabric of our Constitution at its very 
center, the first amendment.'' That was Senator McConnell. He added, 
``Our respect and reverence for the flag should not provoke us to 
damage our Constitution, even in the name of patriotism.''
  The question before us today is how we, the United States of America, 
the greatest democracy the world has ever known, the greatest bastion 
of freedom the world has ever known, a bastion of freedom that remains 
free because of the efforts of the Duke Cunninghams and the Sam 
Johnsons and so many others who risked their lives to maintain that 
freedom, the question before us is how to deal with those individuals 
who dishonor our Nation in this manner.
  Mr. Speaker, a constitutional amendment, in my opinion, is neither 
the appropriate nor the best method for dealing with these malcontents. 
As the late Justice Brennan wrote in the Supreme Court of Texas v. 
Johnson, ``The way to preserve the flag's special role is not to punish 
those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them 
that they are wrong.''
  That is what Thomas Jefferson talked about, that the best response to 
wrong speech was right speech, not prohibiting speech.
  Our traditions, our values, our democratic principles, all embodied 
in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, should not be overridden to 
prohibit this particularly offensive manner of speech, no matter how 
much we may disagree with it or how much contempt we may have for those 
who would express themselves in such an inappropriate and negative way.
  The inflammatory actions of a few misfits cannot extinguish, it must 
not extinguish, our ideals. We can only do that ourselves, and I submit 
that a constitutional amendment to restrict speech, even speech as 
this, is the surest way to stoke the embers of those who will push for 
even more restrictions.
  ``America'' is one of the great songs, and one of the lines from that 
song is ``Long may thy land be bright with freedom's holy light.'' 
Freedom is not allowing those with whom we agree to express their 
opinion; it is allowing those with whom we deeply disagree to express 
theirs.
  Long may this land be bright with freedom's holy light. That is our 
responsibility. That is our oath.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
  Mr. Speaker, this proposed constitutional amendment does not restrict 
anybody from saying whatever they want to say about the flag, about the 
government, about their opinions of any public official, of any 
candidate for office, of the policies that have been made by the 
Federal Government, the State government or the local government. What 
it does do is to prohibit offensive acts, such as burning the flag or, 
in my own State, using the Johnson and Eichman decisions, the State 
Supreme Court said that defecating on the flag was an act that was a 
protected political expression under the first amendment to the United 
States Constitution.
  The only way to put sense back into the law is to pass H.J. Res. 4.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. 
Miller).
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to defend not only 
the flag of the United States, but also what it stands for and for 
those who have defended it throughout our Nation's history.

                              {time}  1615

  The American flag is the greatest symbol of hope and freedom in the 
world. Countless Americans have fought and died for the freedom that 
our flag represents, and the desecration of our great flag is an 
assault on their sacrifice.
  Police officers and firefighters, as well, wear the flag on their 
sleeves each and every day as they do their duty to protect our 
communities. And on September 11, every American witnessed those brave 
firefighters raising Old Glory out of the rubble of the World Trade 
Center. That was a symbol of America's resolve that our freedom will 
reign even in the face of unprecedented terror.
  To allow the desecration of the flag is to give hope to those whose 
goal it is to destroy our freedom. I urge my colleagues to stand up for 
the freedom that the flag represents, to stand up for those who have 
fought and died to defend our freedom, to stand up for those who 
protect our communities and our Nation, to stand up for our flag.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Marshall).
  Mr. MARSHALL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a law professor who 
fiercely believes in the first amendment, but I am also the son and 
grandson of Army generals and a veteran of ground combat in Vietnam.
  I accept the argument that I, my father, my grandfather, other 
relatives, many of whom were wounded, some of whom died, did not fight 
for a piece of cloth, but rather for what it symbolizes. Yet our 
memories and emotions are inextricably intertwined with that cloth 
itself. And the cloth symbolizes a country whose Constitution is not 
writ in stone, immutable for all time. Instead, our Constitution 
establishes a process for its amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, no harm or violence is done here to our constitutional 
system by an amendment designed to respect the memories and emotions 
that are inextricably interwoven with the cloth of our flag. In fact, I 
believe that respecting those memories and emotions nourishes a vital 
spirit in this country, the spirit of individual sacrifice in combat 
for the good of the country.
  Our country's great freedoms were won and enjoyed today because of 
the selfless sacrifices of countless, often nameless, sometimes unknown 
heroes. Amending the Constitution to prohibit flag desecration is a 
small way to thank these individuals who cannot be thanked enough. And 
this amendment is a small price to pay if it strengthens our Republic 
and helps ensure its future.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson).
  (Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise 
and extend his remarks.)
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Cunningham) made the statement, and it is true, that during our 
Civil War flag desecration was regarded as treasonous and punishable by 
death.

[[Page H4829]]

  Today's resolution brings to mind when I was a POW in Vietnam. All 
they told us was that there were demonstrations here in this country; 
that people were burning our flag; that people were against the war. 
And you know what that did for our morale? Nothing. It was bad. We need 
to stop that.
  I well remember when, at our homecoming, which was the day the 
longest-held prisoners left Vietnam for America, and I was part of that 
group, I remember cheering when we got out over the water. And looking 
out the window of our C-130 as we got in to Clark Air Base, guess what 
we saw? The American flag, the flag of the United States of America, 
with all the people on that base out to welcome us waving those flags. 
Not one of them was burning it or desecrating it. They were draped on 
the hangars, they were draped on the buses. What I remember most was 
how happy everyone looked, including those of us who were returning to 
this country to see the American flag hanging from a hangar.
  We are truly blessed to call America the land of the free and the 
home of the brave, and I do not think we should disrespect all she 
stands for and all those who have fought for her. We need to protect 
this great flag. Vote for this amendment.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left, please?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry). The gentleman from New York 
(Mr. Nadler) has 20 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from Wisconsin 
(Mr. Sensenbrenner) has 17\1/2\ minutes remaining.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, first let me comment on what was just said by the 
distinguished gentleman from Texas, by reading an article written by a 
prisoner of war named James Warner. He wrote in ``The Retired Officer'' 
on September of 1989 of his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. 
He writes as follows:
  ``We could subvert them,'' meaning his torturers, the North 
Vietnamese, ``by teaching them about freedom through our example. We 
could show them the power of ideas. I did not appreciate this power 
before I was a prisoner of war. I remember one interrogation, where I 
was shown a photograph of some Americans protesting the war by burning 
a flag. There, the officer,'' that is the enemy officer, ``there, the 
officer said, people in your country protest against your cause. That 
proves that you are wrong. No, I said, that proves that I am right. In 
my country we are not afraid of freedom, even if it means that people 
disagree with us. The officer was on his feet in an instant, his face 
purple with rage. He smashed his fist onto a table and screamed at me 
to shut up. While he was ranting, I was astonished to see pain, 
compounded by fear in his eyes. I have never forgotten that look, nor 
have I forgotten the satisfaction I felt at using his tool, the picture 
of the burning flag, against him.''
  That is the close of the quote from this article from ``The Retired 
Officer'' by James Warner, former prisoner of war in Vietnam.
  Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is we have heard today that 
desecration of the flag ought to be made unconstitutional because it is 
not valid speech. True, the first amendment is not absolute. We do not 
allow people to yell fire in a crowded theater unless there is evidence 
that there is a real fire. The Supreme Court ruled that many years ago. 
But the core protection of the first amendment is for ideas, for 
outrageous ideas, for obnoxious ideas, for ideas that we find horrible 
and offensive and dangerous.
  Our philosophy, what makes this country different and unique, is that 
this country is built on a foundation, the foundation being the belief 
in freedom, in liberty, in the fact that, not always the case but we 
fervently believe in the fact that good ideas will drive out of the 
marketplace of bad ideas; that good speech will defeat bad speech. And 
we do not legislate against bad speech; we do not legislate against 
speech that we disagree with or find outrageous.
  Now, we have heard, of course, that we are not talking about speech 
here, we are talking about expressive acts. But the fact of the matter 
is, again, we are talking about speech. We are talking about speech 
that people are frightened of and outraged about because it offends 
them. Because, again, the very acts we would be outlawing or permitting 
Congress to outlaw with this amendment would not, by anybody's stretch 
of the imagination, be outlawed unless accompanied by the wrong speech.
  Again, as the gentleman from Virginia earlier today told us, and as I 
mentioned in my opening remarks, the recommended manner, recommended by 
the law, of disposing of a flag is to burn it. So, again, if you burn 
the flag, and while you burn it you say respectful things, that is 
wonderful. But if you burn the flag while saying what a terrible policy 
the current administration is following or if you burn the flag while 
saying what a terrible policy we are conducting and that we do not like 
this country, then we would make that criminal. Why? Not because the 
act of the flag burning is any different than when it was done with 
respectful words, but because in the one case the words were respectful 
and in the other case the words were obnoxious.
  I agree the words are obnoxious. But the whole idea of freedom is to 
protect obnoxious words, especially obnoxious words or words that I or 
you may regard as obnoxious, though someone else may regard as fine and 
intelligent. That is their privilege. That is what freedom is about. 
The freedom of speech is not freedom for what we agree with, but 
freedom for what we find outrageous. Not just disagreeable, but 
outrageous.
  When someone criticizes our country and says the war we are fighting 
is wrong, or the conduct of our troops is terrible, or whatever they 
may say that we may find disagreeable, outrageous and horrible, the 
glory of this country is that we give them the freedom to say it. And 
when someone burns a flag, and again there is no epidemic of flag 
burning, this amendment is really directed not at an existent problem, 
or has not existed really in the last 30 years of any size, but when 
you burn a flag and say respectful things, that is okay, because the 
law says that is okay; but when you burn a flag and say disrespectful 
things, that is not okay, what these circumstances say and that what we 
are really legislating against is the speech and not the act.
  The act, accompanied by the right circumstances, would never be 
outlawed. We would not prosecute people who desecrated the flag as part 
of a movie or a play when they were portraying enemy soldiers, Nazi 
soldiers, or Chinese soldiers in the Korean War, because we do not 
think they mean it. What do they not mean? The speech. It is the ideas 
and the speech that we are outlawing by such an amendment. That is at 
the core of protected speech, at the core of the first amendment, at 
the core of the values we are supposed to hold dear. And that is why 
this amendment is so wrongheaded and ought not to be adopted.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, the Constitution of the United States was ratified and 
came into effect in 1789. For 200 years, nobody seriously said that 
desecrating the American flag violated the first amendment to the 
Constitution. In fact, the Federal Government, 48 States and the 
District of Columbia passed statutes declaring flag desecration 
criminal conduct and prescribing criminal penalties.
  It was only after 200 years and the Vietnam War that a flag 
desecration case claiming that first amendment rights were violated 
reached the Supreme Court of the United States. And what were the facts 
of the Johnson case? The Johnson case did not involve protesting the 
Vietnam War. It was burning the flag in front of the 1984 Republican 
National Convention that was held in Dallas.
  Five years later, the case reached the Supreme Court. They decided, 
by a 5 to 4 margin, that flag desecration was political expression that 
enjoyed constitutional protection. And that was the first time in over 
200 years of this Constitution being affected that the courts ruled 
that that type of activity was constitutionally protected.
  I agree with what Chief Justice Rehnquist said in the dissenting 
opinion: ``I cannot agree that the first amendment invalidates the act 
of Congress and the laws of 48 of the 50 States which made criminal the 
public burning of the flag.''

[[Page H4830]]

  If Members agree that the first amendment does prohibit this, then 
vote ``no'' on the constitutional amendment. I do not impugn anybody's 
patriotism. This is a legitimately held political position. But if my 
colleagues think that the Constitution should allow a criminal statute 
to prevent the public desecration of the American flag, the only way 
this can be accomplished is through the strong medicine of amending the 
Constitution.
  The Supreme Court has twice said that if this is attempted to be done 
by statute, the first amendment is violated. I think that the 
government should be able to prevent the physical desecration of the 
American flag no matter how it is done. That is why I support this 
amendment, and I would hope that over two-thirds of the Members of this 
House of Representatives will support this amendment when we vote on it 
shortly.
  Mr. S0UDER. Mr. Speaker, for more than two hundred years, the 
American flag has occupied a unique position as the symbol of our 
nation. During the Second World War, U.S. Marines fought hand to hand 
against thousands of Japanese at Iwo Jima. Upon reaching the top of 
Mount Suribachi, a group of these Marines raised a piece of pipe and 
from one end fluttered a flag. This ascent cost nearly 6,000 American 
lives. As you know, the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington National 
Cemetery memorializes that event. There would seem to be little 
question about the power of Congress to prohibit the mutilation of this 
monument. The flag itself can be seen as a monument, subject to similar 
protection.
  It is true that a person may, in a sense, ``own'' the flag. But this 
ownership is subject to special burdens and responsibilities. Congress 
has prescribed detailed rules for the design of the flag, the time and 
occasion of the flag's display, the position and manner of its display, 
respect for the flag and conduct during hoisting, and lowering and 
passing the flag. With the exception of Alaska and Wyoming, all the 
States have statutes prohibiting the burning of the flag.
  When the desecration of the flag is used as a protest, far more than 
a single flag is being violated. The devotion of every American who has 
expended their blood, sweat, and tears for this great nation is being 
battered. This amendment takes on even more importance given the events 
of September 11th. After watching the horrific events unfold on 
television, our nation came together through the patriotic display of 
old glory. The flag became a rallying point and sent a message to our 
enemies that we will not back down.
  I commend the gentleman from California for this important piece of 
legislation. As it is phrased, H.J. Res. 4 would permit Congress to 
enact laws addressing physical desecration of our flag. Passage of this 
legislation through both the House and Senate would allow the American 
people to vote on this amendment. In doing so we will not only affirm 
the right to speak one's opinions, but also to protect the symbol of 
those freedoms that thousands of Americans have died giving their last 
full measure of devotion to protect.
  Mr. SWEENEY. Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how excited I am that we 
are finally going to have the chance to pass this amendment that will 
restore the American flag to its rightful position of honor. I share 
much of the feelings of my predecessor in this seat: the Honorable 
Gerald Solomon. It has been a long time coming since that tragic day in 
1989 when five Supreme Court justices decided it was OK to burn the 
flag and thereby hurt so many feelings around this country. That is why 
I am so proud to cosponsor this amendment on behalf of the American 
people. Today, we are going to hear the same arguments against this 
amendment that we have heard for years now. I respect the opinions of 
those opponents. That is their first amendment right.
  But, Mr. Speaker, supporters of this amendment come to the floor 
today with the overwhelming support of nearly 80 percent of the 
American people. They are people from all walks of life: from religious 
organizations like the Knights of Columbus and the Masonic Orders, from 
civic organizations like the Polish and Hungarian and Ukrainian 
federations, from fraternal organizations like the Benevolent Order of 
Elks, Moose International, and the Federation of Police, and from other 
groups like the National Grange and Future Farmers of America.
  Perhaps most impressive is the resounding support from the States 
around this country. All 50 States support this Flag Protection 
Amendment. After all, when have all 50 States agreed on anything?
  Some opponents of this amendment claim it is an infringement of their 
First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, and they claim if the 
American people knew it, they would be against this amendment. Well, 
there is a Gallup poll taken of people outside the Beltway--that is 
real people, you know, real down-to-earth people. Seventy-six percent 
of the people in that poll say ``No,'' a constitutional amendment to 
protect our flag would not jeopardize their right of free speech. In 
other words, the American people do not view flag burning as a 
protected right, and they still want this constitutional amendment 
passed, no matter what.
  Mr. Speaker, we should never stifle speech, and that is not what we 
are seeking to do here today. People can state their disapproval for 
this amendment. They can state their disapproval for this country, if 
they want to. That is their protected right. However, it is also the 
right of the people to redress their grievances and amend the 
Constitution as they see fit. They are asking for this amendment. 
Therefore, I am asking you to send this amendment to the States and let 
the American people decide. That is really what America is all about.
  And speaking of America, what is more important than Old Glory. It is 
what makes us Americans--and not something else. Over the past two 
centuries and especially in recent years, immigrants from all over this 
world have flocked to America, knowing little about our culture and our 
heritage. But they know a lot about our flag and respect it! Salute 
it--pledge allegiance to it. Mr. Speaker, it is the flag, which has 
brought this diverse group together, and made them Americans. No matter 
what our ethnic differences; no matter where we come from, whether it 
is up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York where I come from or Los 
Angeles, California; no matter what our ideology point of view, be it 
liberal or conservative, we are all bound together by those uniquely 
American qualities represented by our flag.
  It is that common bond which brings us to this point, where we can 
elevate the Stars and Stripes above the political fray, and carry out 
the will of the vast majority of the American people. It is only 
appropriate, that the Constitution, our most sacred document, include 
within its terms, a protection of Old Glory, our most sacred and 
beloved national symbol. All that is required now, is for each of us to 
draw upon our patriotic fire, and do all we can to effect this demanded 
change to our Constitution. Please vote for this constitutional 
amendment.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, my father served in World War II and 
when I look at the American flag I see the sacrifices he and our 
nation's troops and veterans have made for us to be able to live 
freely. An important part of that freedom is the ability of our 
citizens to express themselves in any way that does not infringe on the 
rights of others. That is what sets the United States apart from so 
many other nations. Our constitutionally assured freedom of speech 
serves as a check against government oppression and injustice.
  The Supreme court has held in several important First Amendment cases 
that a person may desecrate a flag, so long as a danger is not created. 
In 1989, the Supreme Court stated in Texas V. Johnson that any speech, 
particularly such intentionally expressive and overtly political speech 
as the burning of the flag, is protected; it is within the realm of 
liberties which our constitution guarantees us. Our government cannot 
dictate how we express ourselves politically, so long as we do not 
endanger or violate the rights of others.
  While I personally find the desecration of this country's flag to be 
reprehensible, even more important than the flag itself is the freedom 
and liberty it represents. It is a sad day when, in the name of 
patriotism, we limit the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment of 
the constitution. The flag is a symbol of the principles and freedoms 
that make our country great. When we encroach upon those freedoms, we 
risk doing far more harm to our nation than any flag burner could ever 
do.
  Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I regret that due to a family 
medical emergency I could not be present today during the debate and 
votes on H.J. Res. 4, a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the 
United States to make burning or otherwise desecrating a United States 
flag a federal offense. I would, however, like to submit this statement 
for the record so that my position on this resolution is clear.
  The flag burning amendment is an emotional issue that in my opinion 
cuts to the core of the things we hold dear and value as a nation. I do 
not question anyone's patriotism or conviction no matter where they 
stand on this issue. Mine is a matter of record. As a member of the 
Connecticut State Senate I voted to protect the flag, I did so not to 
limit peoples' freedom of expression, but to limit hateful behavior. 
Burning the flag is not speech, and as an expression it seeks to 
engender hate.
  I am not a constitutional scholar, but have long felt that honoring 
my father's memory and that of so many veterans of his generation and 
mine, who have given their lives in defense of the nation should be 
afforded the respect they richly deserve. I do not believe that we 
endanger our freedom by protecting the flag and honoring their memory.
  While I do support this proposed amendment, and have voted for it in 
the past, I also

[[Page H4831]]

understand and respect the opinions of those who have expressed concern 
about the possibility that this amendment could affect First Amendment 
rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. I would, therefore, 
consistent with my votes in the 107th Congress on this issue, also 
support the substitute amendment offered by my colleague Congressman 
Watt that I believe represents an acceptable compromise on this issue.
  I will remain steadfast in protecting peoples' freedom of speech, and 
speaking out against discrimination and injustice. As someone who 
adamantly supports the crime legislation, I cannot be oblivious to the 
incendiary nature and emotional response evoked by burning the nation's 
flag. For many Americans, burning the flag is a hateful action that is 
as repugnant as burning a cross on a lawn, or painting a swastika on a 
synagogue.
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.J. Res. 
4, an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to authorize 
Congress to prohibit the desecration of the flag. This amendment not 
only stands in stark contrast to what the flag represents, but this 
debate today is keeping the House from addressing more urgent matters 
facing our country.
  The flag is a symbol of American greatness. It inspires awe and pride 
and is the official emblem of our nation. And, above all, it stands for 
freedom; the freedom we are guaranteed by being lucky enough to live in 
America. Ironically, this amendment would punish those who exercise 
that freedom. In our country, dissenting views are allowed and 
tolerated, even expressions as offensive as flag desecration. To take 
away this fundamental freedom of expression is to dishonor the flag and 
the liberty it represents.
  Furthermore, this amendment is uncalled for. At this time when there 
are so many issues that this House should be addressing--when American 
soldiers continue to die every day in Iraq, when millions of low-income 
families are being left behind by the Republican Congress and the Bush 
Administration, when seniors across America can't afford their 
prescription drugs and millions more lack any health care coverage, and 
when millions of schoolchildren lack such basic resources as textbooks 
and safe classrooms--the House is instead debating a bill that is 
unnecessary, controversial, vague, and, if passed, would undermine our 
democracy.
  Webster's dictionary defines ``desecrate'' as ``violating the 
sanctity of'' and ``treating disrespectfully, irreverently, or 
outrageously.'' This bill does not specifically define ``desecration.'' 
Therefore, if the amendment were to be passed, we would then be forced 
to discuss whether flag desecration included printing the flag on 
clothing or dropping small plastic flags on the ground after parades; 
we would have to discuss if the ``protected flags'' had size 
regulations or had to be made of specific material; we would have to 
decide if flags on personal property were ``protected''; and on and on. 
These debates are necessary. Instead of debating what freedoms we 
should be infringing upon and taking away, this House of 
Representatives should be doing everything it can to protect people's 
freedoms, especially our freedom of speech, and be working toward 
solutions to the problems that plague our constituents every day.
  I urge my colleagues to vote no on H.J. Res. 4.
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House 
Joint Resolution 4 to ban the desecration of the United States flag. 
Following the horrific events of September 11th, our nation responded 
with an overwhelming show of patriotism. Across our land Americans 
proudly flew their flags from their homes, cars and workplaces as a 
demonstration of their love for the United States, our values, and 
their support for the war against terrorism.
  These actions clearly illustrate that the American people see the 
flag as a symbol of hope, strength, and freedom. It is the one national 
symbol that we can all unify behind. In the flag is at one time our 
history, our aspirations, and our identity. Therefore, we should act 
today as reaffirmation of what our country stands for.
  I would be the first person to stand up in defense of freedom of 
speech; however, there are some actions that are not free political 
speech but behaviors gauged to anger. Defacing the United States flag 
is one of these actions. Those who wish to protest against the actions 
of our country can do it through our media, hold rallies, give 
speeches, and march in demonstrations. Those same people can contact 
elected officials, sign petitions, and express their views in many 
ways.
  To burn the flag not only suggests disgust for our great country, it 
also shows a lack of respect for the men and women who are currently 
fighting overseas, and even more so for those who have fought and died 
to make the United States of America what it is today.
  I urge my colleagues to support the Resolution and vote in favor of 
final passage.
  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this resolution.
  I am not in support of burning the flag. But I am even more opposed 
to weakening the First Amendment, one of the most important things for 
which the flag itself stands.
  I agree with the Boulder Daily Camera that ``If Congress and the 
states embraced this amendment, it would shield a symbol of freedom 
while assailing the very freedom it signifies. That symbolic flag 
desecration would be far more egregious than the theatrics of any two-
bit protester.''
  As the Denver Post put it when the House considered a similar 
proposal two years ago. ``The American flag represents freedom. Many 
men and women fought and died for this country and its constitutional 
freedoms under the flag. They didn't give their lives for the flag; 
they died for this country and the freedom it guarantees under the Bill 
of Rights. Those who choose to desecrate the flag can't take away its 
meaning. In fact, it is our constitutional freedoms that allow them 
their reprehensible activity.''
  I completely agree. So, like Secretary of State Colin Powell, former 
Senator John Glenn, and others who have testified against it, I will 
oppose this resolution.
  For the benefit of our colleagues, I am attaching the editorials on 
this subject in the Daily Camera and the Denver Post:

           [From the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera, May 7, 2003]

                          The Real Desecration


         ``Flag protection amendment'' assails American values

       Colin Powell loves our country, its Constitution and the 
     flag. A general and a statesman, he has spent decades 
     defending all three. Unlike many members of Congress, 
     however, Powell can differentiate between our sweet liberty 
     and a cherished symbol of that liberty.
       Congress should heed Powell's advice. Let's hope it does. 
     In the U.S. House of Representatives today, a committee is 
     scheduled to consider a proposed constitutional amendment on 
     ``flag protection.''
       If ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, the 
     amendment would allow Congress to do what the First Amendment 
     forbids: to criminalize the physical desecration of the U.S. 
     flag.
       The House version of the flag-protection resolution has 135 
     co-sponsors, including Colorado Reps. Bob Beauprez, Joel 
     Hefley, Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Tancredo. Colorado Sens. 
     Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell are among the 55 
     Senate co-sponsors.
       For years ago, Powell was asked about the flag-desecration 
     amendment, which members of Congress were then, like now, 
     pursuing. First, Powell noted, very few Americans burn the 
     flag. Second, he said, these desecrators are irrelevant: 
     ``They may be destroying a piece of cloth, but they do no 
     damage to our system of freedom, which tolerates such 
     desecration.''
       Powell said he would not alter the Constitution on their 
     account. ``I would not amend that great shield of democracy 
     to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will still be flying 
     proudly long after they have slunk away.''
       It's just that simple. If Congress and the states embraced 
     this amendment, it would shield a symbol of freedom while 
     assailing the very freedom it signifies. That symbolic flag 
     desecration would be far more egregious than the theatrics of 
     any two-bit protester. It is nothing short of stupefying that 
     many of our leaders continue to ignore this self-evident 
     truth.
                                  ____


               [From the Denver (CO) Post, June 25, 2001]

                       Flag Amendment Should Die

       Although a proposed constitutional amendment to ban 
     desecration of the American flag continues to lose steam, it 
     nonetheless is once again being considered in the U.S. House.
       The amendment, one of the most contentious free speech 
     issues before Congress, would allow penalties to be imposed 
     on individuals or groups who burn or otherwise desecrate the 
     flag.
       In past years, the amendment has succeeded in passing the 
     House only to be killed, righteously, on the Senate floor.
       The American flag represents freedom. Many men and women 
     fought and died for this country and its constitutional 
     freedoms under the flag. They didn't give their lives for the 
     flag; they died for this country and the freedom it 
     guarantees under the Bill of Rights. Those who choose to 
     desecrate the flag can't take away its meaning. In fact, it 
     is our constitutional freedoms that allow them their 
     reprehensible activity.
       American war heroes like Secretary of State Colin Powell 
     and former Sen. John Glenn strongly oppose this amendment. 
     Glenn has warned that ``it would be a hollow victory indeed 
     if we preserved the symbol of freedoms by chopping away at 
     those fundamental freedoms themselves.''
       In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that desecration 
     of the flag should be protected as free speech.
       Actual desecration of the flag is, in fact, a rare 
     occurrence and hardly a threat. There have been only a 
     handful of flag-burnings in the last decade. It's not a 
     national problem. What separates our country from 
     authoritarian regimes is the guarantee of free

[[Page H4832]]

     speech and expression. It would lessen the meaning of those 
     protections to amend our Constitution in this way.
       The amendment is scheduled to go before the House this 
     week, although if it passes it would still have to face a 
     much tougher audience in the Senate. The good news is that 
     House support of the amendment has been shrinking in recent 
     years. It is possible that if that trend continues, the 
     amendment could not only die this year but fail to return in 
     subsequent years. We urge House lawmakers to let this issue 
     go.

  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I will not vote for any constitutional 
amendment that undermines the First Amendment, which, as the U.S. 
Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed, protects even unpopular forms of 
dissent. Our founding fathers well know the importance of free speech 
and expression, and carrying on that tradition, we should do everything 
possible to ensure that this fundamental cornerstone of our democracy 
remains intact.
  Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to 
this legislative proposal to amend the Constitution, giving Congress 
the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag.
  For more than 2 centuries, the first amendment to the Constitution 
has safeguarded the right of our people to write or publish almost 
anything without interference, to practice their religion freely and to 
protest against the Government in almost every way imaginable. It is a 
sign of our strength that, unlike so many repressive nations on earth, 
ours is a country with a constitution and a body of laws that 
accommodates a wide-ranging public debate.
  There is little question that those who would desecrate the flag have 
a lack of respect for this great nation. But we need not give these 
misinformed individuals any more attention than they deserve.
  One can imagine the future protest situations that would take place 
should this legislation ever receive the massive support required of a 
constitutional change. It would be outrageous. And the contribution to 
the average hardworking American? More taxpayer dollars and police 
manpower wasted in the pursuit of little more than an offender lacking 
patriotism and good taste. The American flag does not need protection 
from such poor behavior. The principles embodied in it outshine such 
cowardly attempts to defame its stature.
  Rather than spending time today arguing the merits of the 1st 
amendment, we should be focusing more attention on improving the daily 
lives of millions of Americans. From the rising costs of health care to 
a lack of affordable housing, many of our nation's veterans are 
struggling to make ends meet and now brace for the substantial cuts in 
benefits passed by this body. But instead of tackling those issues, we 
stand here debating a solution in search of a problem. Those brave men 
and women who risked their lives protecting our democracy need more 
than politicians paying them lip service, they need money to help pay 
the bills.
  Heck, they can't even get a proper military burial service at 
Arlington National Cemetery because cuts to Veterans Affairs funding 
have eliminated the use of live buglers and replaced them with battery 
powered boom boxes. What a shame.
  In short, the amendment in question is unnecessary. We don't need it 
and we must not become the first Congress in U.S. history to chill 
public debate by amending the Constitution in such a way. This issue 
truly tests the notion of freedom of speech guaranteed by our fore 
fathers. Let's pass this test and do the right thing by opposing this 
unmerited resolution.
  Mr. SHAYS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.J. Res. 4, 
which would amend the Constitution to allow Congress to pass laws 
banning the desecration of the flag.
  I find it abhorrent anyone would burn our flag. And if I saw someone 
desecrating the flag, I would do what I could to stop them at risk of 
injury or incarceration. For me, it would be a badge of honor.
  But I think this Constitutional Amendment is an overreaction to a 
nonexistent problem. Keep in mind the Constitution has been amended 
only 17 times since the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791.
  This is the same Constitution that eventually outlawed slavery, gave 
blacks and women the right to vote and guarantees freedom of speech and 
freedom of religion.
  Amending the Constitution is a very serious matter. I do not think we 
should allow a few obnoxious attention-seekers to push us into a 
corner, especially since no one is burning the flag now, without an 
amendment. I agree with Colin Powell who, when he served as Chairman of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote it was a mistake to amend the 
Constitution, ``that great shield of democracy, to hammer a few 
miscreants.''
  When I think of the flag, I think about the courageous men and women 
who have died defending it and the families they left behind. What they 
were defending was the Constitution of the United States and the rights 
it guarantees as embodied by the flag.
  I love the flag for all it represents, but I love the Constitution 
even more. The Constitution is not just a symbol; it is the very 
principles on which our nation was founded.
  I urge my colleagues to vote against this resolution.
  Mr. BUYER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this constitutional 
amendment to empower Congress to enact legislation to protect Old Glory 
from desecration.
  This is not an issue about what people can say about the flag, the 
United States, or its leaders. Those rights are fully protected. The 
issue here is that the flag, as a symbol of our Nation, is so revered 
that Congress has a right and an obligation, to prohibit its willful 
and purposeful desecration. It is the conduct that is the focus.
  After September 11, Old Glory of any size, any fabric, including ones 
made by school children from construction paper; those stuck in flower 
pots, pinned on lapels, or decals posted in the back window of pickup 
trucks were displayed everywhere. On the news, Tom Brokaw referred to 
this phenomenon ``like countless bandages of patriotism covering a 
nation's wounds--a reassuring symbol'' of what it means to be an 
American. It represents the physical embodiment of everything that is 
great and good about our nation--the freedom of our people, the courage 
of those who have defended it, and the resolve of our people to protect 
our freedoms from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
  It is not a coincidence that when others seek to criticize America, 
they burn the American flag. Old Glory is the embodiment of all that is 
America--the freedoms of the Constitution, the pride of her citizens, 
and the honor of her soldiers, not all of whom make it home.
  I have seen the Stars and Stripes on a distant battlefield. Across 
the river from here is a memorial of another battlefield and to the 
valiant efforts of our fighting men to raise the flag at Iwo Jima. It 
was not just a piece of cloth that rose on that day over 50 years ago. 
It was the physical embodiment of all we, as Americans, treasure--the 
triumph of liberty over totalitarianism; the duty to pass the torch of 
liberty to our children undimmed.
  The flag is worth protecting, defending. I urge the adoption of the 
Amendment.
  Mr. BARRETT of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong 
support of H.J. Res. 4. This amendment rightfully restores authority to 
Congress to regulate the treatment of our most precious national 
symbol--the American flag.
  The flag has been a symbol of our freedoms for over 200 years.
  Our flag has sailed around the world, it has traveled to the moon, it 
has flown atop the North Pole and Mt. Everest, it has withstood war 
both on our soil and abroad--each time representing what our nation 
stands for--freedom and democracy.
  Over the years our flag has not only inspired but has comforted our 
nation. This was never more evident than the days, weeks and months 
following September 11. It was a photo of 3 firefighters raising the 
flag amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center that showed not only 
our nation, but the world we would not fall. A few days later we 
watched as the flag was draped over the Pentagon--we showed the world 
with that one action--terrorists may have tried but they did not 
succeed in destroying our nation and all we hold dear.
  On September 11 the terrorists forced war upon our country. Since 
that day our military has been fighting a global war against terrorism. 
These brave young men and women risk their lives every day to defend 
the very freedoms the flag represents.
  I served in the United States Army, fortunately during peacetime, but 
as a Captain in the US Army if my country called, myself and those who 
I served alongside, were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to 
defend the freedoms our flag represented.
  It saddens me to see people in foreign countries celebrate as they 
burn our flag--I cannot do anything about what they do in their 
streets, but I can try to do something about what happens in our 
streets. It disgusts me when I see our own citizens desecrate the flag, 
the flag represents all our nation has been through and embodies all 
our nation stands for--to burn the flag is to burn all it stands for.
  I wonder how the soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq, who fight every day 
to protect our nation from ever seeing the horrors of another September 
11, feel when they see or hear about American citizens burning the 
American flag--the very flag they fight under.
  Therefore, I urge my colleagues to support H.J. Res. 4, the U.S. Flag 
Protection Constitutional Amendment.
  Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House 
Joint Resolution 4, the Constitutional Amendment to prohibit flag 
desecration.
  Our flag is a symbol of the American character and its values. It 
tells the story of victories won--and battles lost--in defending the 
principles of freedom, and democracy.

[[Page H4833]]

  These are stories of real men and women who have selflessly served 
this Nation in defending that freedom. And many of them lost their 
lives for it. Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Iwo Jima, Korea, 
Da Nang, Persian Gulf--our men and women had one common symbol--the 
American flag.
  The American flag belongs to them, as it belongs to all of us.
  Critics of the amendment believe it interferes with freedom of 
speech. I disagree. Americans enjoy more freedoms than any other people 
in the world. They have access to public television. They can write 
letters to the editors to express their beliefs, or call into radio 
stations. I meet with constituents everyday in order to best represent 
their interests in Washington. Americans can stand on the steps of the 
Nation's capitol building to demonstrate their cause.
  They do not need to demonstrate our noble flag to make their 
statement, and I do not believe protecting the flag from desecration 
deprives Americans of the opportunity to speak freely.
  And let us be clear: speech, not action, is protected by the 
Constitution. Our Founding Fathers protected free speech and freedom of 
the press because in a democracy, words are used to debate and 
persuade, and to educate. A democracy must protect free and open 
debate, regardless of how disagreeable some might find the views of 
others. Prohibiting flag desecration does not undermine that tradition.
  The proposed amendment would protect the flag from desecration, not 
from burning. As a member of the American Legion, I have supervised the 
disposal of over 7,000 unserviceable flags. But this burning is done 
with ceremony and respect. This is not flag desecration.
  Over 70 percent of the American people want the opportunity to vote 
to protect their flag. Numerous organizations, including the Medal of 
Honor Recipients for the Flag, the American Legion, the American War 
Mothers, the American G.I. Forum, and the African-American Women's 
Clergy Association all support this amendment.
  Forty-nine states have passed resolutions calling for constitutional 
protection for the flag. In the last Congress, the House of 
Representatives overwhelmingly passed this amendment by a vote of 298 
to 125, and will rightfully pass it again this year.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of H.J. Res. 4 
and ask that my colleagues join me in supporting this important 
resolution that means so much to so many.
  Mr. TERRY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.J. Res. 4 to 
allow Congress to ban the physical desecration of the flag.
  During the War of 1812, American soldiers valiantly fought at Fort 
McHenry, Maryland to preserve the newly-formed United States. The story 
of the fort's battle flag, which continued to wave despite the barrage 
of bombs from British warships, was captured in the poetry of Francis 
Scott Key. He marveled at the resiliency of our flag, and the unfailing 
courage it brought to the men battling for freedom under its stars and 
stripes. His words are now our national anthem, sung in school rooms, 
at sporting events, and whenever our nation pays homage to its fallen 
heroes. The image of our flag is ingrained in the hearts of all 
freedom-loving Americans.
  The flag represents our ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for 
all. It also symbolizes the sacrifice of 41 million Americans who have 
fought our wars dating back to the Revolution, and the one million 
Americans who have died to defend our freedoms. We live in liberty 
today because they did not shrink from duty. The least we can do to 
show our eternal gratitude is to protect our flag--our treasured symbol 
of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
  We are debating H.J. Res. 4 today because the Supreme Court has ruled 
that flag burning is ``protected expression'' under the First 
Amendment. Since this misguided decision was handed down, every state 
in the union has asked Congress to approve a Constitutional Amendment 
to protect Old Glory from physical desecration. Our First Amendment 
does not allow citizens to yell ``fire!'' in a crowded theater, nor 
does it protect intentionally outrageous acts of destruction. 
Desecrating our flag falls squarely into this category.
  We are not debating free speech rights today. We are debating whether 
our sons and daughters will appreciate the sacrifices of their 
forefathers when they see the flag waving. The freedom, honor and 
sacrifice symbolized by Old Glory must never be taken for granted.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.J. Res. 
4.
  Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.J. Res. 4 to protect 
our nation's flag.
  Our flag is a symbol of pride to all of the veterans who have bravely 
fought for this nation. It is a symbol of hope and prosperity to the 
many immigrants who have traveled to this land seeking a better way of 
life. But most of all, it is a symbol of freedom to all Americans.
  We must ensure that our symbol, representing all of the things 
Americans hold sacred is respected. We must stand up and protect our 
flag from destruction.
  Just as no one has the right to take away our freedom and democracy, 
no one should have the right to burn our flag.
  Many soldiers have died protecting our freedom and democracy. The 
rights and freedoms that we enjoy today are because of the courage of 
our brave soldiers. Our flag, flies as a constant reminder of our 
military's victories.
  We must not forget that all of our soldiers have not yet returned 
from war. Many of our men and women are still in the Middle East trying 
to safeguard Iraq. Many of our soldiers are still in Afghanistan, 
searching for Osama Bin Laden. The battle for peace in the Middle East 
is not over.
  Our soldiers are still risking their lives and dying in the name of 
this nation. Now is not the time to question patriotism. We must be 
united and stand behind our soldiers and our symbols of freedom.
  When a soldier or a veteran dies, his family receives a flag honoring 
the loss of their loved one. We proudly drape the flag over their 
coffins. We must make sure the families know that their loved one did 
not die in vain. The American Flag is the symbol that represents the 
soldier's sacrifice and a nation's respect.
  Many people come to this land seeking religious freedom, freedom from 
oppressive governments, economic prosperity and a better way of life 
for their children. Many people come to this land and join the military 
because they know America is a land worth protecting. To them the flag 
is a promise of liberty, security, and opportunity.
  Our flag flies high symbolizing the hopes and dreams of immigrants 
all over the world. We must keep our flag sacred to welcome those 
believing in the American Dream.
  Just as you would not melt the Liberty Bell, tear up the Declaration 
of Independence, or destroy the Statue of Liberty, we must protect our 
nation's flag. I stand in support of this legislation for the soldiers 
and veterans who have fought to protect it, the immigrants who believe 
in its promise, and all of the Americans who pledge their allegiance to 
it. We must keep our flag flying high.
  Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Speaker, even before we were a nation, we had our 
flags. Different from today's to be sure. But serving the same 
purpose--symbols of unity, and of our hopes, achievements, glory, and 
high resolve.
  Brave New England patriots faced down British regulars at a place 
called Bunker Hill under the Continental Flag which prominently 
featured a pine tree.
  ``Don't Tread on Me,'' said the colonists in the South, and a coiled 
rattlesnake on their flag reinforced that message.
  The Grand Union Flag went to sea with John Paul Jones and marched 
under George Washington in the early days of our Revolution. By 
combining the British Union Jack with thirteen red and white stripes it 
reflected the thinking of the colonists during that time: allegiance to 
the Crown, but willing to fight for their rights as Englishmen.
  That thinking had changed, however, by July 4, 1776. The Declaration 
of Independence--``That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought 
to be Free and Independent States''--set us on a new course, from which 
there was no turning back. It was a realization that a people could not 
at once fight against the king and at the same time profess their 
loyalty to him. And, it meant that the new United States would need a 
national flag.
  On June 14, 1777--the day we now celebrate as Flag Day--the 
Continental Congress adopted the following brief resolution: 
``Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen 
stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, 
white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.''
  It is now believed that Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the 
Declaration of Independence, designed the first national flag that 
legend attributes to Betsy Ross. For his services, he submitted 
Congress a bill for nine dollars. Of course, government in 1777 was not 
really much different from government today. Hopkinson never got paid.
  So, we had a national flag, the ``Stars and Stripes.'' In 1792, the 
first version with thirteen stars in a circle appeared. In 1795, the 
flag was changed to recognize the entry of Vermont and Kentucky into 
the Union with the addition of two stars and two stripes. This flag of 
fifteen stars and fifteen stripes figured in many stirring episodes. It 
was the first flag to be flown over a fortress of the Old World when it 
was raised at Tripoli in 1805. It was flown at the Battle of Lake Erie 
and by Andrew Jackson at New Orleans. And it was flown at our young 
nation's most inspiring moment.
  In 1812, our nation had declared war on Great Britain because of 
British seizure of neutral U.S. trading vessels, and the impressment of 
American seamen into service on British ships. The British, preoccupied 
with Napoleon, were not amused. They were even less amused when we sent 
forth speedy privateers to seize their merchant ships and to frustrate 
their heavily gunned men-of-war.

[[Page H4834]]

  In 1814, with Napoleon exiled to the island of Elba, the British 
determined to put the upstart former colonists in their place. They 
dispatched a 50-ship expeditionary force--veteran soldiers and sailors 
from the world's strongest military power. Up the Chesapeake Bay they 
came, and on August 24 and 25, 1814, they burned Washington. Their next 
target: Baltimore--third largest city in the U.S., a rich trading 
center, and home to many of the fleet privateers that had humiliated 
the proud Royal Navy.
  As the British moved on Baltimore, one thing blocked their way--Fort 
McHenry, whose guns dominated the channels leading into Baltimore 
Harbor. Unless they could get past the fort, the British Navy could not 
support its ground forces whose advance on the city had been stalled.
  So, at dawn on September 13, a 25-hour bombardment began. At the same 
time, a 35-year-old American lawyer was being held on board a British 
ship pending the end of the battle. Francis Scott Key watched the 
``rockets red glare'' and ``the bombs bursting in air'' through the 
night. At the first light of dawn, Key was relieved to see that Fort 
McHenry's giant flag--30 feet by 42 feet--``The Star Spangled 
Banner''--did indeed still wave over ``the land of the free and the 
home of the brave.'' Inspired by the sight, he took pen in hand and 
gave us what would become our National Anthem.
  The burning of Washington and the victory at Ft. McHenry united our 
young nation like nothing before had done. We emerged from the War of 
1812, with a new national identity, confidence, and patriotism, a 
recovering economy, and a place in the world. And we continued to 
grow--to the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and beyond with 
new states joining the union and the number of stars in that field of 
blue growing.
  Less than 50 years after the end of the War of 1812, our flag would 
face one of its greatest challenges. As our nation was split asunder in 
a great civil war, and its ability to endure as one hung in the 
balance, courage related to the flag often spelled the difference 
between victory and defeat.
  Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, November, 1863. A key link between the 
east and west for the Confederacy. Confederate troops entrenched along 
a 400-foot-high, seven-mile-long summit. Sixty Union regiments under 
General George Thomas attacked positions at the foot of the ridge, and 
then, unexpectedly, surged up the slope. Flag bearers led the way. When 
one fell, another stepped forward to grab the colors, and the advanced 
continued. A young First Lieutenant--not yet 20 years old--caught the 
flag of the 24th Wisconsin as it was about to fall, and carried it to 
the crest. Arthur MacArthur's bravery earned him a battlefield 
promotion to major and the Medal of Honor that day. Many of you here 
today may have served under his son, Douglas, in the Pacific or Korea. 
In all, seven flag bearers won the Medal of Honor at Missionary Ridge. 
At day's end, the flags of 60 Union regiments lined the summit.
  The War ended and the Union was preserved. And the flag proved as 
inspiring in peace as it was in war. In 1868, a former Union Army 
Sergeant, Gilbert Bates, set out to carry the Stars and Stripes from 
Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Washington, D.C., to prove to friends back 
in Wisconsin that we were once again one nation. Crowds cheered him at 
every town and village as he marched through the heart of the Old 
Confederacy. Ironically, and maybe today we could say prophetically, 
Sergeant Bates and his flag encountered real hostility and opposition 
only in our nation's capital.
  Westward we moved, behind the flag. Across the Wide Missouri, and 
along the South Platte to the Rockies, and beyond to Oregon and 
California. South to Santa Fe and the Rio Grande--conquering a 
wilderness, settling a continent, and fulfilling our destiny. New stars 
added to the flag and more people to enjoy the blessings of liberty it 
embodies: people in the new lands, and immigrants from the Old World--
the ``huddled masses yearning to breathe free.''
  Our flag went to foreign shores. Up San Juan Hill with Teddy 
Roosevelt in the Spanish American War ending four centuries of Spanish 
colonialism in the New World. At Veracruz, on the Gulf coast of Mexico, 
its honor was defended by brave sailors and marines. ``Over there'' it 
went with a Missourian, General John Pershing, in the ``War To End All 
Wars.''
  Our flag was tattered, but not lowered at Pearl Harbor. And we 
rallied behind it, lifted it higher. We took it ashore at Normandy, and 
across the Rhine with Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton, and Hitler's 
``Thousand Year Reich,'' the worst tyranny the world has yet known, 
crumbled at its advance. Across the South Pacific it went, island by 
island. In 1944, the most dramatic flag raising in American history, on 
a rocky Pacific island called Iwo Jima. When the sun rose the next day 
on that flag atop Mount Suribachi, the sun of Japanese Imperialism 
began to set.
  The flag was with us: In Korea helping to preserve democracy for half 
of a divided nation. In Vietnam, where brave American POWs fashioned 
handmade flags to defy their captors. It went to the moon with the 
astronauts of Apollo 11.
  Yes, our flag has stood by us--leading us, inspiring us, sustaining 
us--in all of our national endeavors, in war and in peace, for over 200 
years.
  Now, sadly, it seems that some people don't want to stand by our 
flag. The Supreme Court has said that it is all right to desecrate our 
flag, to burn it even, in the name of free speech. ``Government,'' says 
the Court, ``may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because 
society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.''
  I agree that everyone in this country has the right to make his views 
known on any issue, no matter how irrational, how wrong, or how 
unpopular those views might be. But does that mean that every form of 
conduct is permissible as a means of exercising rights guaranteed by 
the First Amendment to the Constitution? I say no. And I say so as a 
student of law and of history. The framers of the Bill of Rights used 
words carefully to convey a precise meaning. The First Amendment to the 
Constitution says ``Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the 
freedom of speech, . . .'' It says nothing about ``expression.''

  Legal precedent and common sense tells us that there can be limits on 
conduct which are not inconsistent with First Amendment rights. 
Consider some extreme examples: Would anyone, even the Supreme Court, 
contend that we must permit human sacrifice under the guise of free 
exercise of religion? Would someone be allowed to blow up the Lincoln 
Memorial to express a political view?
  Flag burning does not merit First Amendment protection. It is conduct 
that is offensive and provocative to the overwhelming majority of 
Americans. Moreover, it is unnecessary. Any point of view that can be 
expressed by flag burning can be better expressed in a manner that is 
reasoned, rational and more effective in communicating an idea or 
attempting to persuade others.
  We have a great system of government, and one reason it is so great 
is that if you disagree with a government action, even a decision of 
the highest court in the land, you can work to change it.
  Therefore, I support legislation being considered by the House of 
Representatives today that will create a Constitutional Amendment that 
will allow Congress and the States to ban flag burning and other 
similar forms of flag desecration. The process of changing the 
Constitution is not fast and easy. The framers wanted to make amending 
the Constitution a difficult, deliberative process.
  I am confident that a Constitutional Amendment can be passed. But if 
it fails, or if it stalls, we can move in other areas. We can redraft 
and enact new flag desecration statutes that attempt to meet the 
Court's objections to the Texas statute. If those new statutes won't 
pass muster, we'll enact new ones.
  We can do still more. Our children must be taught to respect the flag 
not only in our schools, but by our example. We must instruct them to 
display it and use it properly and salute it appropriately. We must 
encourage our children and every future generation to value the 
freedoms we enjoy and to stand tall and proud when they say, ``I pledge 
allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America . . .'' We must 
instill in them a strong sense of the heritage embodied in our flag, 
and the pride of being an American. Finally, we must ensure that they 
continue to recognize and honor the great sacrifices made by previous 
generations of Americans, many of whom gave ``the last full measure of 
devotion'' so that we could live free.
  The poet Edgar A. Guest said it best when he penned:

                          The Boy and the Flag

     I want my boy to love his home, his Mother, yes, and me:
     I want him, wheresoe'er he'll roam, With us in thought to be.
     I want him to love what is fine, Nor let his standards drag,
     But, Oh! I want this boy of mine To love This country's flag!

  Let me take a moment and put a few things in perspective. As much as 
the Supreme Court decision has disappointed me, it is in the final 
analysis no real threat to our nation. Our flag stands for too much to 
be brought down by matches lit by those who would desecrate it. Its 
glory cannot be diminished by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It cannot be 
threatened by any enemy, foreign or domestic. If they step on it, write 
on it, tear it to shreds, even burn it to ashes, we'll just raise it up 
again, and it'll fly higher and more gloriously than ever before.
  A few years ago, we had a flag day ceremony in the House of 
Representatives. County-western singer Johnny Cash recited these lyrics 
that he had written:

[[Page H4835]]

                            Ragged Old Flag

                            (By Johnny Cash)

     I walked through a county courthouse square
     On a park bench an old man was sitting there
     I said, ``Your old courthouse is kinda run down.''
     He said, ``Naw, it'll do for our little town.''
     I said, ``Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit,''
     And that's a ragged old flag you got hanging on it.''
     He said, ``Have a seat.'' And I sat down.
     ``Is this the first time you've been to our little town?''
     I said, ``I think it is.'' He said, ``I don't like to brag,
     But we're kind of proud of that ragged old flag.''
     ``You see, we got a little hole in that flag there
     When Washington took it across the Delaware
     And it got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key
     Sat up watching it, writing `Say Can you see'
     It got a bad rip in New Orleans
     With Packingham and Jackson pulling at its seams
     And it almost fell at the Alamo,
     Beside the Texas flag, but, she waved on though
     She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville
     And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill
     There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard and Bragg
     The South wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag
     On Flanders field in World War One
     She got a big hole from a Bertha gun
     She turned blood red in world War Two,
     She hung limp and low by the time it was through
     She was in Korea and Viet Nam
     She went where she was sent by he Uncle Sam
     She waved from our ships upon the briny foam
     And now they've about quit waving her back here at home
     In her own good land she's been abused
     She's been burned, dishonored, denied, refused
     And now the government for which she stands
     Is scandalized throughout the land
     And she's getting threadbare and she's wearing thin
     But she's in good shape for the shape she's in
     Cause she's been through the fire before
     And I believe she can take a whole lot more
     So we raise her up every morning
     Bring her down slow every night
     We don't let her touch the ground
     And we fold her up right.
     On second thought, . . . I do like to brag,
     Cause I'm mighty proud of that ragged Old Flag.''

  Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to support H.J. Res. 4 and to 
give Old Glory the respect it deserves.
  Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost reverence and respect for 
the flag of the United States, one of the most recognizable symbols of 
freedom and liberty in the world. And I have the utmost respect for 
those who want to protect it. Among other things, the flag represents 
our rights as Americans, including those protected by the Bill of 
Rights. The first amendment in particular is the amendment that 
embodies the very essence upon which our democracy was founded because 
it stands for the proposition that anyone in this country can stand up 
and criticize this government and its policies without fear of 
prosecution.
  The first amendment is perhaps the best known provision of the 
Constitution and has been well guarded over the years by Congress and 
the Courts. But today's amendment would create a tremendous spiritual 
change, effectively turning the words ``no law'' in ``Congress shall 
make no law'' into ``few laws.'' Which is to say it would sap the first 
amendment of the principle it represents, the one that insists that 
this country does not punish ideas, no matter how unpopular.
  But here we are, yet again, debating an amendment that would for the 
first time in our Nation's history change the first amendment to our 
Constitution, without a compelling reason. Flag burning is exceedingly 
rare. Yet supporters have never let themselves be restrained by the 
fact that the amendment represents a non-solution to a non-problem, and 
whose predictable outcome would be to make flag burning the ``in'' 
protest among the young and antisocial.
  I am going to oppose this legislation, not because I condone or do 
not feel repulsed by the senseless act of disrespect that is shown 
rarely against one of the most cherished symbols of our country, the 
American Flag, but because I recognize that our Constitution can be a 
challenging document. It reminds us that our democracy requires all of 
us to permit the expression of ideas that we may spend a lifetime 
opposing--and not simply move to pass an amendment to silence their 
voice. Our democracy, rather, is about advanced citizenship. It asks 
all Americans to fight and even protect the right of our fellow 
citizens to express views that are against what we believe and value 
most in our country.
  There are few things that evoke more emotion, passion, pride or 
patriotism than the American Flag. But if we pass this amendment today, 
where do we stop? Do we move to protect other icons of American 
patriotism? Should we pass an amendment that prohibits the burning of a 
copy of the Declaration of Independence or of the Constitution? Let us 
not go down that path today. We have done well these past two centuries 
without having to amend the Bill of Rights.
  In a country of over 280 million people, I do not believe that the 
actions of a few individuals should compel us to change our most 
fundamental principles. I respect our flag as well as those who have 
fought and died to protect the ideals which it symbolizes, but I also 
respect those very ideals and principles contained in our Constitution. 
The purity of the first amendment should not be adulterated now so that 
Congress can protect flags that nobody's burning anyway.
  Mr. KLECZKA. Mr. Speaker, the American flag is a visible symbol of 
all the freedoms that make our Nation great, and this includes our 
First Amendment right to express ourselves freely. Our Constitution 
protects even those forms of speech that others may disagree with or 
find offensive. It is this very liberty to publicly voice one's 
opinions and ideas no matter how controversial they may be that 
distinguishes our great Nation from others.
  While the desecration of our flag triggers an almost universal 
reaction of disgust by Americans, we are strong enough as a nation to 
allow individuals to express themselves in this manner, and stronger 
still to resist the urge to stamp out free speech that challenges us. 
By outlawing the expression displayed in desecrating the flag, we would 
diminish and undermine our flag's value by suppressing the very 
freedoms that it represents.
  We must also note that this amendment offers a solution to a problem 
that simply doesn't exist. Only 45 incidents of flag desecration were 
reported between 1777 and 1989. Since then, these acts have been very 
rare. This was particularly noteworthy during the lead-up to the War in 
Iraq. Despite vehement anti-war sentiment, no groups burned or 
desecrated the flag during rallies or protests. I fail to see why it is 
necessary to tinker with the Bill of Rights--the bedrock of our 
Republic--for the first time in 211 years to outlaw an act that rarely 
occurs.
  The United States of America has a long and proud history of 
protecting the right of free expression for its citizens, and I do not 
believe that the voice of freedom should be muzzled.
  Mr. STARK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose H.J. Res. 4, a 
constitutional amendment to prohibit the desecration of the U.S. flag. 
In doing so, I rise in support of protecting the right to free speech.
  The First Amendment to the Constitution says, ``Congress shall make 
no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .'' Yet, this bill 
would overturn two Supreme Court decisions upholding flag burning as 
symbolic speech protected under the First Amendment. If ratified, this 
amendment would be the first time ever that the Bill of Rights has been 
altered and in a manner that limits the freedoms that belong to the 
American people.
  Conveniently, we debate this bill just before Flag Day. Now 
Republicans can run back to their districts to flaunt what they believe 
is patriotism. But, we must ask ourselves: is it patriotic to trample 
upon the Constitutionally protected freedoms? The freedom of speech is 
vital to our democracy--it sets our nation apart from those oppressive 
regimes we have fought and deposed throughout our history.
  Some of my colleagues--mainly on the other side of the aisle--will 
mention today that veterans across the nation support this amendment. I 
respect these brave Americans and what the flag means to them. But, the 
Republicans are using this issue to cover over their failure to fully 
compensate our veterans for their heroic service.
  Republicans have no intention to provide for the real needs of these 
men and women, like improved veterans benefits, better health care for 
them and their families, access to affordable housing and affordable 
educational opportunities to name a few. Instead, Republicans are using 
this amendment for political gain without paying respect to those 
things that bring real dignity and honor to our veterans. And let us 
not forget, these veterans fought for our freedoms and everything our 
Constitution stands for.
  Opening the door to limiting the freedoms of all Americans is a 
dangerous precedent. I fear what could be next if the Republican 
leadership of this House have their way. I ask my colleagues to stand 
up for our Constitution and vote no on this amendment.
  Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.J. Res. 4, 
which would add an amendment to the Constitution banning the 
desecration of the American flag.
  I believe that desecrating the American flag is a terrible way to 
exercise one's freedom of expression. It is hurtful and offensive. Yet, 
freedom of speech is one of the bedrock principles of this Nation's 
democracy. Some of the

[[Page H4836]]

most powerful movements in the history of America occurred because our 
Constitution guarantees everyone the freedom to express themselves.
  While desecrating the American flag in protest offends many people, 
the flag is a symbol of our Nation's powerful democracy. Protecting our 
citizens' right to express themselves is more vital to the strength of 
our democracy than the physical appearance of the flag.
  I believe that all Americans should respect and honor the flag. 
However, I oppose placing restrictions on the First Amendment by adding 
this amendment to our Constitution.
  While this is an important issue and it deserves to be debated by 
this body, we cannot forget another issue of vital importance to 
America's veterans. The budget proposed by the Majority includes 
serious cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  The proposed $15 billion cut in benefits and $9.7 billion cut in 
health care would leave many veterans without access to critical 
resources. With the ongoing conflict in Iraq, there will undoubtedly be 
more soldiers who will need care in the future. Rather than cut the 
funding for the VA, we should be providing adequate funding so that the 
Department will be prepared for caring for the soldiers who may need 
care after the current conflict has ended.
  Mr. OXLEY. Mr. Speaker, I stand in strong support of H.J. Res. 4, 
which calls for a constitutional amendment permitting Congress to 
protect our Nation's flag.
  As the vast majority of our constituents all know, Old Glory is far 
more than a piece of cloth. Especially in this post-September 11 era, 
it is the most visible symbol of our Nation and the freedoms we have 
too often taken for granted. It is a unifying sign in times of peace 
and war, instilling pride in our great country and continued hope for 
our future.
  Americans from across the political spectrum and from every walk of 
life support the passage of this amendment. Since the Supreme Court in 
1989 invalidated state-passed flag protection laws, the legislatures in 
each of the 50 states have passed resolutions petitioning Congress to 
propose this amendment. I am proud that the House is taking this 
important step toward a constitutional amendment today.
  Mr. Speaker, my hometown of Findlay, Ohio, is well known for its 
civic pride and spirited celebration on Flag Day. The annual display of 
many thousands of flags on houses and businesses throughout Findlay 
earned the community the designation ``Flag City USA.'' Arlington, 
Ohio, which I am also privileged to represent, has been named ``Flag 
Village USA'' for the patriotism inherent in its citizens. The letters, 
phone calls, and e-mails I have received from Findlay, Arlington, and 
throughout my congressional district in recent weeks express strong 
support for the protection of Old Glory.
  I am proud again this year to be cosponsor of Duke Cunningham's joint 
resolution, and recognize him for his unwaverly leadership on this 
issue. I urge my colleagues to support their constituents and vote in 
favor of sending this amendment to the states for ratification.
  Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.J. Res. 4, 
which would amend the United States Constitution to restore to Congress 
the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the 
United States.
  Amending the United States Constitution is not something that should 
be undertaken in a cavalier manner. The gravity with which such changes 
in the document that provides the structure for our system of 
governance should be taken is reflected by the amendment process 
devised by the Founding Fathers. Article V of the Constitution provides 
that amendments can be proposed by two-thirds of both Houses or through 
a convention called by two-thirds of the states. Additionally, the 
Article provides that these proposed amendments must be ratified by 
three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in three-
fourths of the states.
  So, the question before us today is whether we believe that we should 
restore to Congress the power to protect the flag if Congress so 
chooses. As I have stated previously, we are considering this question 
because the United State Supreme Court has taken what the Bill of 
Rights says is protected speech, and has extrapolated it to encompass 
behavior that the Bill of Rights does not specifically mention, the 
burning or otherwise desecration of the United States flag. When the 
Supreme Court did this, it handcuffed Congress in order to provide 
Constitutional protection to behavior that many Americans find 
despicable. Notwithstanding those assertions that H.J. Res. 4 itself 
would ban the desecration of our flag, H.J. Res. 4 would instead unlock 
the handcuffs that the Supreme Court slapped on Congress.
  While the question of protecting our Nation's flag from desecration 
is not before us today, I do recognize that man of my constituents do 
not view the flag as merely a compilation of red, white, and blue 
cloth; rather, they see that cloth as the enduring emblem of freedom 
and America. I also recognize that to preserve both freedom and 
America, many American men and women, including some of my constituents 
in the recent Middle East conflicts, have willingly sacrificed their 
lives and limbs and have endured hardships that few of us can 
comprehend. And, I know that the desecration of our flag is a direct 
affront to these brave men and women and their sacred sacrifices. Thus, 
I now take my Constitutional prerogative to ensure that Congress has 
the ability to enact, or not to enact, legislation as Congress sees fit 
to protect our Nation's flag from intentional desecration.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, the United States flag is one of the two 
most enduring symbols of our freedom and liberty. I believe that those 
who desecrate the flag degrade themselves and I find it a reprehensible 
act. So too, it is reprehensible for people to express hateful language 
against our country and some of our citizens. One of the values our 
flag represents is the freedom of expression. The United States and our 
cherished freedom are strong enough to withstand assaults of the crude, 
the bigoted and the hateful. The strength to withstand assaults comes 
from the other enduring symbol of our liberty: the Constitution. We 
should not trivialize the importance of that document, especially the 
freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment, by rushing to 
change the Great Document when we are offended by acts.
  Because Americans honor this cherished symbol, I understand the rage 
and disgust most of us feel towards those who made their points by 
trampling on our flag. It is important to note that flag burning today 
is not a major problem. Throughout my years in Congress, only one 
constituent has voiced his concerns regarding flag burning, and none 
back home in Oregon.
  The proposed constitutional amendment is the wrong way to protect the 
flag. Ironically, it would be the fastest way to make the very rare 
occurrences of flag burning more frequent. After all the publicity 
surrounding ratification by the states occurs, we will have made our 
flag the target for every publicity-seeking protester in America. 
Burning the flag will be the fastest way to go to court, perhaps to 
jail, but certainly the evening news. Because we cherish our flag and 
our Constitution, we should reject this amendment.
  Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of our 
American flag and as a cosponsor of H.J. Res. 4, which would amend the 
Constitution to allow Congress to protect the United States flag from 
acts of physical desecration.
  Our flag has become a symbol of freedom for Americans and people 
around the world, whether flying outside of a home, or raised out of 
the rubble of the World Trade towers after the September 11 attacks. As 
an international emblem of the world's greatest democracy, the American 
flag should be treated with respect and care. We should not consider 
the flag as mere ``personal property,'' which can be treated any way we 
see fit, including physically desecrating it as a form of political 
protest.
  The American flag is a source of inspiration wherever it is 
displayed, and a symbol of hope to all nations struggling to build 
democracies. As a proud member of the House Armed Services Committee, I 
deeply admire those who have fought and died to preserve our freedoms 
in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world throughout our history. 
These men and women have bravely defended our flag and the fundamental 
principles for which it stands. They deserve to know that their 
government treasures the flag and all it represents as much as they do.
  Before being overturned by the Supreme Court in 1989, 48 states and 
the District of Columbia passed laws protecting the flag. Over the last 
few years, all 50 states have passed resolutions calling on Congress to 
pass a Constitutional amendment, which is the only way to restore the 
power of states and Congress to implement the will of the people.
  For these reasons I, as well as a great number of Americans, believe 
that our flag should be treated with dignity and deserves protection 
under the law. With Flag Day on June 14, I can think of no better way 
to honor the enduring symbol of our democracy than adopting this 
resolution today. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.J. 
Res. 4 to allow Congress to prohibit desecration of the American flag.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1630

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry). All time for general debate 
has expired.


      Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Offered by Mr. Watt

  Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr.

[[Page H4837]]

Watt) the designee of the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers)?
  Mr. WATT. Yes, Mr. Speaker.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the amendment in 
the nature of a substitute.
  The text of the amendment in the nature of a substitute is as 
follows:

       Amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. 
     Watt:
       Strike all after the resolving clause and insert the 
     following:

     SECTION 1. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

       The following article is proposed as an amendment to the 
     Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to 
     all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
     ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several 
     States within seven years after the date of its submission 
     for ratification:

                              ``Article --

       ``Not inconsistent with the first article of amendment to 
     this Constitution, the Congress shall have power to prohibit 
     the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.''.

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the amendment 
and claim the time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 255, the 
gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt) and the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt).
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I have not been involved in the debate up to this point 
on the proposed constitutional amendment, but I want to commend the 
chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and my colleagues who have 
conducted this debate up to this point on the quality of the debate. 
This is always a debate which I think has the capacity to bring out the 
best of the Members of our body. It does not always do that because 
there are strongly held positions, and sometimes emotion overtakes the 
day and we see the debate deteriorate. There have been instances when 
that has happened today, but by and large, I think this has been a 
high-quality debate, and I want to compliment my colleagues for 
maintaining the high quality of that debate.
  I was, at one point, the ranking member on the Subcommittee on the 
Constitution, occupying the position now held by the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Nadler); and during my time in service as the ranking member 
of that subcommittee, I realized that the quality of the debate on this 
proposed constitutional amendment was not the kind of quality that I 
really wanted to be involved in.
  What I saw was that Members who supported the proposed constitutional 
amendment would come to the floor and they would claim that Members who 
opposed the constitutional amendment were somehow unpatriotic; and 
Members who opposed the proposed constitutional amendment and were on 
the opposite side from the proponents of the amendment would come to 
the floor, and they would accuse the other side of being somehow 
unpatriotic. And I would have to admit that when I first became a party 
to this debate, I was a part of that name-calling process.
  I thought that anybody who really supported the first amendment to 
the Constitution had to respect, even if they did not admire or like, 
they had to respect the right of people who wanted to express 
themselves in opposition to various kinds of injustices that were 
taking place in our society by expressing themselves verbally, 
expressing themselves through political action, expressing themselves 
by even burning or desecrating the American flag.
  I thought it was a fairly simple proposition because I was not 
listening very carefully to the people who were on the other side of 
that debate, and I was not honoring the strong positions and 
commitments that they held to the fact that the flag was somehow 
different and that burning or desecrating the flag was somehow 
different than other kinds of free speech that citizens could engage 
in.
  And then I started to listen to what the other side was saying, and I 
started to study this issue with a little more intensity, and I 
concluded that it could not possibly be the case that you could have a 
five-person majority on a United States Supreme Court that had nine 
members, and the court was split five people on one side and four 
people on the other side, and this not be a very, very difficult issue.
  Can Members imagine that Justice Scalia supports the position that I 
am advocating here that when one burns the flag, they are engaging in 
protected speech; yet Justice Rehnquist, somebody who I think most 
people think is pretty close philosophically to Justice Scalia, takes 
exactly the opposite position.
  I tried to imagine during the course of that debate whether Justice 
Scalia ever looked at Justice Rehnquist and said, ``You are 
unpatriotic''; or on the other hand, whether Justice Rehnquist looked 
at Justice Scalia and said, ``You are unpatriotic.''
  So I started to listen to my good friend, the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Cunningham), and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sam 
Johnson) and what he was saying, and I said, those Members believe as 
vigorously in the position they are asserting as the Members on our 
side believe in the position we are asserting, and we could have a 
high-quality debate about this flag burning amendment if we honored 
each other's positions and opinions and really came in and talked about 
the merits of this proposed constitutional amendment as opposed to 
calling each other unpatriotic.
  So I decided I would offer an amendment which simply says, not 
inconsistent with the first article of amendment to this Constitution, 
the Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of 
the flag of the United States.
  I thought that if we framed the issue in that context, we could 
really have an honest debate not only about what the physical 
desecration of the flag might consist of, but we could have an honest 
debate about what is or is not protected by the first amendment.
  Now, I should say straight off that my opinion is that adding to the 
underlying proposed constitutional amendment, which itself says the 
Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of 
the flag of the United States, simply adding to that that whatever 
statutory act we take as a Congress must be consistent with the first 
amendment to the Constitution, I pretty much assumed was a given. And a 
number of my colleagues who have supported the underlying proposed 
constitutional amendment have said, we do not want to do harm to the 
first amendment, we are not trying to cut off speech. So it seems to me 
that at some point, even if we pass the underlying proposed 
constitutional amendment that we are debating here, the one that says 
that Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration 
of the flag of the United States, that at some point the Supreme Court 
is going to be called upon to make that constitutional amendment 
reconciled with the first amendment, which says that this Congress 
shall make no law that tramples on the right of free speech.

  So it may be that the amendment that I am offering here is kind of a 
redundancy. I am just basically saying that whatever we do as a 
Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag must be done 
consistently with the first amendment to the Constitution, not anything 
revolutionary here.
  Well, what does the first amendment mean? I thought I knew what the 
first amendment meant. I had a good law school education from what they 
tell me is one of the best law schools in the country, Yale University. 
Some of my colleagues will differ about whether it is the best or the 
second best or in the top 10 or in the top 30, but most people agree 
that it is at least one of the good universities, one of the good law 
schools in the country; and I will tell Members, Mr. Robert Bork was my 
constitutional law professor. We had some free-wheeling discussions in 
that class about what the first amendment meant. I thought once I got 
out of law school, I understood fully what the first amendment was all 
about.
  And then I went back to North Carolina, and I went into the practice 
of law, and one day my senior law partner, a gentleman by the name of 
Julius Chambers, came to me and said, I want you to go down to eastern 
North Carolina and represent some Native Americans who have been 
charged with parading and threatening with a tomahawk in a 
demonstration that has taken place out there. They have been

[[Page H4838]]

charged with resisting arrest and all of the things that people get 
charged with when the police do not like what they are out there 
parading about, and these Native Americans had been arrested, four or 
five of them had been arrested. And my senior law partner sent me to 
eastern North Carolina to defend them against the criminal charges.
  I did not know much more about those criminal charges until I got 
down to eastern North Carolina, and I sat down with my clients, and as 
I started to talk to them about what they were demonstrating about, 
they looked at me and they said, well, we did not want to go to school 
with black people. So we were out there demonstrating against going to 
school with black people. So I kind of swallowed hard and finished that 
day of activity, and I went back to my law office in Charlotte and I 
confronted my senior law partner and said, Julius, why would you send 
me down to eastern North Carolina as a black man to defend people who 
were out there demonstrating against going to school with black people?

                              {time}  1645

  Julius Chambers looked me straight in the eye, and he told me that 
day what the first amendment was all about. He simply said to me, 
``Don't you believe in the first amendment?''
  Those are words that I have never forgotten. That same law firm 
represented the Ku Klux Klan when they wanted the right to demonstrate 
and it was unpopular.
  This is a difficult issue, and there are patriots on both sides of 
this issue. This is not about whether one side has a monopoly on 
patriotism or the other side has a monopoly on patriotism. This is a 
difficult issue because we love the flag and the one kind of common 
theme that I was able to gather from all of this discussion over all 
these years because we have been debating this constitutional amendment 
for 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 years. Ever since I have been here, it seems 
like, we have this constitutional amendment.
  But the one thing that I think we all have agreed upon is that none 
of us like people who burn the flag. We are all patriots. There are 435 
of us in this body. Every single one of us represents over 600,000 
people. Can you imagine 600,000 people sending somebody to this 
Congress who was not patriotic? This, my friends, is not about whether 
you are a patriot or not. It is about your idea of what the first 
amendment truly means. It could not be that you could have Justice 
Brennan, Justice Marshall, Justice Blackmun, Justice Scalia and Justice 
Kennedy saying that this is protected speech when you burn the flag in 
certain contexts and them be not patriotic. These men are not 
unpatriotic. And it could not be that Justice Rehnquist and Justice 
Stevens and Justice White and Justice O'Connor are out to lunch on this 
issue, either. This is a difficult issue. And I think the important 
thing here is that we should not minimize the difficulty of the issue 
and we should not minimize each other because some of us happen to be 
on one side of this issue and some of us happen to be on the other 
side.
  I value the first amendment, not that the people on the other side do 
not value it, too. I am sure they do. But in the process of having the 
Congress draft and pass a law to prohibit the physical desecration of 
the flag, the last thing I want is for us to do it in such a way that 
violates the first amendment to the Constitution. That amendment has 
been there for years and years and years and it has served us well. 
Nobody has tested this new amendment that is being offered here today 
which says the Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical 
desecration of the flag. Who knows what the United States Supreme Court 
might read into that. But what I can tell you is that our first 
amendment has served this country well. And people have fought and died 
for the right of people to express themselves. Maybe they do not like 
them expressing themselves by burning the flag, but it is considered by 
some people protected speech. And it cannot be, even in current day, 
more recent times, that Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, who 
happens to believe that this proposed constitutional amendment is 
unnecessary and ill advised, surely we would not dare to call him 
unpatriotic.
  Whatever we do, my colleagues, I simply implore us to do it 
consistent with the first amendment to the Constitution. And if we are 
able to do that, then I think we will have served our country well. 
What I suspect is that Congress wants to just, let's pass this 
amendment and leave the difficult part, which is crafting something 
that really prohibits the physical desecration of the flag without 
trampling on the first amendment, to a future time. Let us just finesse 
that issue. This proposed amendment in the nature of a substitute does 
not allow us to finesse it. What it says is that whatever we do when it 
comes time to start drafting our statute that prohibits the physical 
desecration of the flag must be done consistent with the first 
amendment to the Constitution.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt) graduated 
from one of the finest law schools in the country. His speech just 
concluded and his amendment showed that he learned his constitutional 
law well from Professor Robert Bork, who is one of the outstanding 
constitutional scholars in the country. The only difference between the 
Watt substitute amendment and the constitutional amendment introduced 
by the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham) is the words ``not 
inconsistent with the first article of amendment to this 
Constitution.''
  What his amendment does is constitutionally codify the Johnson and 
Eichman decisions that said that flag desecration is protected free 
speech by the first amendment to the United States Constitution. So the 
gentleman from North Carolina's qualifying phrase is legislative 
sleight of hand that will prevent any future Supreme Court from 
deciding they made a mistake in the Johnson decision and in the Eichman 
decision. For that reason and for that reason alone, this amendment 
should be rejected, because it does the exact opposite to what the 
gentleman from California and his cosponsors are attempting to do in 
House Joint Resolution 4. It writes into the Constitution Supreme Court 
decisions that a vast majority of the American public believe were 
erroneously decided.
  Never before has Congress tried to do this. I just thank the Lord 
that they have not. Because if someone tried to constitutionally codify 
the separate but equal decisions of the United States Supreme Court in 
the late 1890s, Brown v. Board of Education would never have been 
possible and would never have been constitutional. That is one of the 
things that has given minorities in this country the opportunity for 
education, to be able to graduate from high school and go to a good 
college and go to the top law schools in the country. So I think that 
we should hit this amendment head-on. We should vote for it or vote 
against it, patriots all; but we should not attempt to put into the 
Constitution the effect of the United States Supreme Court decisions, 
two of them, in fact, that have brought us to this point here.
  Let me repeat. The Watt substitute amendment puts into the 
Constitution the Johnson and the Eichman decisions that state that 
physical desecration of the American flag is conduct that is protected 
by the first amendment to the United States Constitution.
  Vote ``no'' on the Watt substitute amendment and pass the resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from Virginia (Mr. Scott).
  Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the 
amendment offered by the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt). His 
amendment is an attempt to clarify how the underlying legislation will 
affect the first amendment as well as the rest of the Constitution. It 
changes the proposed constitutional amendment to read, ``Not 
inconsistent with the first article of amendment to this Constitution, 
Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of 
the flag of the United States.''
  So under the Watt amendment, a person could not be prosecuted just 
for the expression of opinion, or whether or not the sheriff is 
offended by that opinion; and, in other words, you should

[[Page H4839]]

not pass a law that provides for the criminal prosecution for someone 
who burns a worn-out flag while criticizing the administration at an 
anti-war rally if that same legislation allows someone to burn a worn-
out flag if they say something nice about the administration while at a 
flag retirement ceremony sponsored by war supporters. The fact is that 
many consider peace rallies as vulgar and would like to throw the 
participants in jail. The fact is in many communities, the Bill of 
Rights is the only thing between those protesters and the jailhouse.
  We should acknowledge that the ultimate purpose of the proposed 
amendment is to stifle political expression we find offensive. And 
while I agree that we should all respect the flag, I do not think it is 
appropriate to use the criminal code to enforce our views on those who 
disagree with us or to stifle political expression for those who happen 
to offend us.
  The Watt amendment would make the proposed amendment consistent with 
the ideals of the Bill of Rights. It says that Congress could pass a 
law prohibiting the physical desecration of the flag so long as it is 
consistent with the first amendment. And so the underlying amendment is 
either consistent with the rest of the Constitution or it trumps the 
rest of the Constitution. Either the underlying amendment will override 
the first amendment or it will not. At least we ought to be honest and 
answer the question.
  The Watt amendment says the underlying amendment will not override 
the first amendment and that any legislation passed under it has to be 
consistent with the first amendment. On the other hand, if the Watt 
amendment is defeated, then that action suggests that legislation 
passed under the constitutional amendment may not be consistent with 
the first amendment. And if it overrides the first amendment on speech, 
what else does it override? Does it override the first amendment in 
terms of religion? If you were to pass a statute establishing a 
national prayer for the protection of the flag, that would be 
inconsistent with the establishment clause. But does this 
constitutional amendment override the establishment clause? What about 
the equal protection clause? Can you pass a law that says some people 
can burn the flag but other people cannot, in violation of the equal 
protection clause? Will this legislation trump that? Or will the rest 
of the Constitution remain as it is?
  My view is that this amendment is superfluous, that the rest of the 
Constitution is there. The chairman suggests that it codifies present 
law and, if so, if it does codify present law, this amendment as it is, 
you ought to say so. You ought to say whether or not it is consistent 
with the free speech provision of the first amendment, you can pass the 
law, or whether or not it is consistent with the rest of the 
Constitution, you can pass the law. It does not say so.

                              {time}  1700

  So I think we are stuck with the present law. The Watt amendment 
forces us to address the question.
  Now, remember, as the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt) has 
pointed out, the underlying amendment does not prohibit anything, it 
just says that Congress may pass a law regarding the desecration of the 
flag. The real question is what standard are we going to use to judge 
what constitutes desecration and whether or not it has to be consistent 
with the speech provisions of the first amendment and the rest of the 
Constitution or not. This is what the Watt amendment is aimed at 
determining.
  Mr. Speaker, I do not think we ought to repeal the Bill of Rights, 
and therefore, I urge my colleagues to support the Watt amendment.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Alabama (Mr. Davis).
  Mr. DAVIS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding 
me time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the amendment from my very able 
colleague from North Carolina. At the outset, Mr. Speaker, I want to 
talk about what it is that is really the strength of our system, and I 
would define it this way: The strength of our system is nothing less 
than its capacity to absorb the worst impulses in our character.
  Now, my very able colleague from Wisconsin mentioned Brown v. Board 
of Education. The day the Supreme Court issued the ruling in Brown v. 
Board of Education, there were crosses burned in this country. There 
were crosses that were burned on the day that Martin Luther King was 
assassinated. There are bigots who paint swastikas on synagogues in our 
country. There were thugs who called our soldiers war criminals and who 
waived the Vietcong flag in their face when they came back from 
Vietnam.
  There is no constitutional amendment to regulate the cross burners or 
the bigots who paint swastikas on synagogues. There is no 
constitutional amendment to regulate or prescribe the enemies of our 
democracy who would call our soldiers war criminals. The reason is 
because we have frankly concluded that we do not need one. We count on 
our values and we count on the best angels in our nature to overwhelm 
the worst of us. We do not count on amendments, we count on the best 
angels in our nature.
  If we pass this amendment without the Watts substitute, let us make 
it clear what we are doing. We would be singling out one class of 
speech, one uniquely obnoxious viewpoint, and we would be saying that 
this idea is somehow so corrosive, so dangerous, that we cannot count 
on our values to trump it.
  Mr. Speaker, I am frankly not prepared to give the idiocy and the 
stupidity of flag burning this kind of power. We do not need an 
amendment to underscore our commitment to the flag and the values 
behind it any more than we need an amendment to suppress the other 
enemies of our political character. I trust the system that we have, 
and I think it is that, frankly, for which our veterans have fought.
  We have heard a lot of talk today about whether our veterans have 
fought for a symbol or whether they fought for a flag. I would submit 
to you, as one Member's opinion, I think they fought for a system, and 
I trust that system. Whether it yields a 5-4 Supreme Court decision or 
a 9-0 Supreme Court decision, I trust that system to address that 
issue.
  I will say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that this first amendment of 
ours has always been unique because it is this amendment that has 
somehow stood as a barrier to our temporary impulses, it has stood as a 
barrier to the temporary ways that we would react to things, and it has 
served us well. If we are going to change the way we look at flag 
burning, it ought to be done through our courts, our highest courts. If 
we are going to tinker with the edges of the first amendment, it ought 
to be done by our Court, our highest Court.
  I ask my colleagues to vote for the Watts substitute.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
  Mr. Speaker, there is a difference between the Court decisions on 
flag desecration and the Court decisions on burning crosses and 
painting swastikas on synagogues. On the one hand, the Court has said 
that flag desecration is protected by the first amendment as free 
speech or free political expression. The Supreme Court has never struck 
down an anticross-burning law or a hate crime law that makes it a crime 
to paint a swastika on a synagogue as political expression protected by 
the first amendment to the United States Constitution.
  That is why we are here debating this constitutional amendment, 
because there are a lot of us that believe that the Supreme Court was 
wrong when they decided that desecrating the flag was political 
expression protected by the first amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. 
Cunningham).
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, I would say to my colleagues on the 
other side of this issue, if you do not have an outlet for civil 
unrest, burn a French flag; but do not try to do it in France, because 
you will end up in jail.
  As my friend on the other side that offered this substitute said, we 
all have different opinions on this particular issue. We feel very, 
very strongly, as the gentleman does on that side. But I will tell my 
friend the reason I think he is wrong, and that is that for 200 years 
we had tradition in this country that States had penalties for those 
that desecrated the flag, and in one 5-4 decision, that was changed.
  Now, 80 percent, up to 86 percent sometimes when they take polls, of 
the

[[Page H4840]]

American people disagree with the gentleman. All 50 States, not 40, not 
30, but all 50 States have passed resolutions saying that they will 
ratify this position, which says that my friend's opinion is wrong.
  I will say that 100 percent of the veterans organizations, those men 
and women that fought to keep this country free, support this. They are 
out in this city campaigning for this amendment, and they are going to 
score this vote, every single one of them, because they feel so 
strongly and say that my friend is wrong in his opinion.
  Yes, he does have the right to that opinion. But I would say that 
when some people have said that it does no harm, listen to what it did 
to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Johnson) when he was a POW and the 
Vietnamese told him they were burning the American flag. It was 
disheartening. That does affect us.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Waters).
  Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague on the 
Committee on the Judiciary for his brilliant presentation on behalf of 
opposing this amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, I came to the floor simply to say that despite the fact 
that the debate has been about the first amendment, we really do have 
another issue that has not been talked about a lot, and the issue is 
this: There are those who would use this particular amendment to try 
and send a message to the veterans that they care more about them than 
some of us, that they are more patriotic than some of us.
  We are all patriotic. We all say the Pledge of Allegiance to the 
flag. We all sing ``My Country 'tis of Thee.'' And some of us add to 
that our support for veterans by putting our money where our mouths 
are. We do not support the cuts that are being proposed by the opposite 
side of the aisle. We have stood up on this floor relative to this 
budget time and time again asking our Republican friends, please do not 
cut the veterans.
  I am patriotic. I support the veterans. I may be against this 
amendment, but I will be there at appropriations fighting for them. The 
folks on the opposite side of the aisle will not.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the proposed constitutional 
amendment and in support of the Watt substitute which is intended to 
harmonize the proposed amendment with the protections of the First 
Amendment.
  It seems to me that the substitute that Congressman Watt is proposing 
is a common sense amendment that Members can and should support, 
whatever their position on the need for, or desirability of a flag 
desecration amendment.
  Mr. Speaker, I believe that flag desecration is an act that deserves 
condemnation. Nonetheless, I strongly oppose the proposed 
constitutional amendment. The amendment is dangerous and should not be 
approved.
  Yet, at a minimum, if we are going to adopt the proposed flag 
desecration amendment, I believe that we should reaffirm that our 
intention is not to limit the protections of the First Amendment. We 
should not start down the road toward narrowing the scope of the First 
Amendment to our Constitution.
  Yet, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I fear that the Watt substitute will 
not receive the support that it deserves because the process of 
considering this resolution is not about the law. It's about politics. 
In my view, the underlying flag desecration resolution is really 
political theater of the worst kind.
  While the Resolution no doubt is calculated to win favor with 
veterans organizations, and may well satisfy some of them, decimating 
our Constitution is the wrong way to honor our veterans. Thus, the need 
for the Watt substitute.
  The reality is that many of the Republicans who will speak so 
fervently this afternoon about the need for this Resolution are the 
same Members of Congress who voted for a House Republican Budget 
Resolution that would have cut appropriations for Veterans health care 
over ten years by a total of $6.2 billion below the level needed to 
maintain purchasing power at the 2003 level.

  Just so that the Republicans, who could not see fit to provide a 
child tax credit to millions of low income workers, nonetheless could 
provide more than $1 trillion in tax cuts over ten years, principally 
to the wealthy, to those who need it least.
  The original House Budget resolution would have cut veterans programs 
by $28 billion over ten years. As all of us know, the Budget Resolution 
Conference Agreement that ultimately was adopted provides for an 
unspecified $128 billion cut over ten years in discretionary spending 
with $7.6 billion in additional unspecified cuts to take place in FY 
2004 alone. So the risk to veterans programs is real, and the 
appropriations process will reflect it.
  Mr. Speaker, our veterans need help, not just flag-waving. The best 
way that Congress can honor veterans is to ensure that programs 
designed to protect Veterans and provide them with desperately needed 
assistance are properly funded.
  Mr. Speaker, the issue before us is not one of patriotism. It's one 
of priorities. We have veterans who now wait six months before they can 
see a doctor in the VA health system. Our veterans wait years before 
they can even get a decision on their VA disability claims. Is this how 
we honor our veterans? Is this how we honor their service and their 
sacrifice?
  Mr. Speaker, we will know that this House is serious about honoring 
our veterans, when we focus our attention on Democratic proposals to 
reduce the waiting times for our veterans to see a doctor, and reduce 
the handling time for VA disability claims.

  H.J. Res. 4 will merely serve to dishonor the Constitution and to 
betray the very ideals for which so many veterans fought, and for which 
so many members of our armed forces made the ultimate sacrifice.
  Adopting this resolution will encourage further departures from the 
First Amendment and diminish respect for our Constitution. Once we 
start down the road to limiting speech on the basis of content, it is 
virtually certain that further restrictions of our First Amendment 
liberties would follow.
  Mr. Speaker, freedom of expression is at the very heart of our 
democracy. It is our First Amendment and the robust exchange of views 
that it promotes that distinguishes our country from countries that 
fear political dissent and imprison dissenters for expressing their 
views.
  Mr. Speaker, the proposed cure of a Constitutional Amendment is far 
worse than the disease it is intended to address. Our Constitution is a 
great document that has protected us from oppression for over 200 
years. We ought not to tinker with it when such tinkering clearly is 
not required. I urge my colleagues to support the Watt substitute and 
reject the dangerous, ill-considered underlying base bill.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Corrine Brown).
  Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, let me just remind the 
Members of this House that just 74 short days ago in this same room we 
stood in the People's House and stripped the veterans' budget by about 
$30 billion. That is $30 billion. We cut 20,000 VA nurses. Where was 
the patriotism when we lost 6.6 million outpatient visits? Where were 
you waving your flag as you voted to drop over 160,000 veterans from 
the VA health care?
  Mr. Speaker, we can talk the talk; we need to walk the walk. Let us 
support the veterans, not with our discussion of the flag, but with 
service to our VA veterans.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I think the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Davis) hit the 
nail on the head that this is about our system. I have the utmost 
confidence in our system. This is not really about those two Supreme 
Court opinions, because a different composition of the Supreme Court 
may well say that flag burning is not prohibited, that it is protected 
speech or is not protected speech. The first amendment will continue to 
say what it says.
  But I respect the system under which we operate that allows the 
Supreme Court to be the ultimate arbiter of whether we have violated 
the first amendment or not.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, this debate here and now is not on the appropriation for 
the Department of Veterans Affairs; it is on whether or not the 
Congress can pass the constitutional amendment reversing two Supreme 
Court decisions and prohibiting the physical desecration of the 
American flag.
  The gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham), who is a veteran, and 
I am not, stated the position of every veterans organization in the 
country: They are for this.
  The vote at hand is going to be on the Watts substitute amendment. As 
I stated in my earlier argument, what this substitute amendment does is 
constitutionally codify the Johnson and the Eichman decisions, which 
state

[[Page H4841]]

that flag desecration is protected free speech under the first 
amendment of the United States Constitution.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chairman yielding, because 
the chairman has made that point several times. Does the chairman 
understand that future Supreme Courts may, in fact, have a completely 
different interpretation of that, and that my amendment does not say 
anything about those decisions? It just respects the system under which 
we are operating.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, what it does do 
is, in order to prevent flag desecration, it requires the Supreme Court 
of the United States to admit it made a mistake and expressly overrule 
both the Johnson and Eichman decisions. The Supreme Court of the United 
States does not overrule previous decisions very often. It did it in 
Brown v. The Board of Education. But not very often in other major 
areas, particularly in the interpretation of constitutional law, does 
the Supreme Court of the United States do it.
  The way to hit this issue is head on. If you do not like this 
amendment, vote ``no,'' but do not adopt the Watts substitute 
amendment, which merely tosses the ball back to the Supreme Court, 
which twice has told us that flag desecration is constitutionally 
protected.
  The only way to reverse what the Supreme Court has done for sure is 
to defeat the Watts substitute amendment and pass the underlying bill 
introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham).
  Mr. Speaker, I ask for a ``no'' vote on the substitute, a ``yes'' 
vote on passage of the constitutional amendment.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the 
substitute to H.J. Res. 4, a resolution proposing an amendment to the 
Constitution of the United States authorizing Congress to prohibit the 
physical desecration of the American flag, offered by my colleague The 
Honorable Melvin Watt. I urge my colleagues to reject H.J. Res. 4 as it 
is presently written, and to support the substitute.
  H.J. Res. 4, states, ``The following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purpose as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States 
within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification: 
Article--`The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical 
desecration of the flag of the United States.'. '' (emphasis added).
  The amendment to the Constitution proposed in H.J. Res. 4 is a severe 
abridgement of the freedom of expression protected by the First 
Amendment of the United States Constitution. If ratified, H.J. Res. 4 
would, for the first time in our Nation's history, modify the Bill of 
Rights to limit freedom of expression.
  This Constitutional amendment is a response to a pair of Supreme 
Court decisions, Texas v. Johnson, and United States v. Eichman, two 
cases in which the Court held that state and federal government efforts 
to prohibit physical ``desecration'' of the flag by statute were 
content-based political speech restrictions and imposed 
unconstitutional limitations on that speech.
  In Texas v. Johnson, Gregory Johnson was arrested for burning the 
U.S. flag during a protest at the Republican National Convention in 
Dallas. His acts were a deemed a violation of Texas's ``Venerated 
Objects'' statute that outlawed ``intentionally or knowingly'' 
desecrating a ``national flag.'' The Supreme Court found that Johnson's 
conduct constituted symbolic expression and was, therefore, protected 
by the First Amendment. The Court determined that because Mr. Johnson's 
guilt depended on the content of his expressive conduct and was 
restricted because of that content, the Texas law was an 
unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
  After the Johnson ruling Congress passed the Flag Protection Act. 
Under that Act, criminal charges were brought against protesters in 
Seattle and Washington, D.C. In both cases, the federal district courts 
relied on Johnson, striking down the Flag Protection Act as 
unconstitutional when applied to political protesters. The Supreme 
Court concluded that Congress' attempt to protect the flag was related 
to ``the suppression of free expression'' that gave rise to an 
infringement of First Amendment rights.
  The substitute proposed my Mr. Watt is designed to protect American's 
right to express their opinions and views in a way that is consistent 
with the First Amendment, and also consistent with Supreme Court 
precedent.
  Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamental 
components of our democracy. Limiting the ability of American citizens 
to voice their opinions about their government, through flag 
desecrations or otherwise, is a violation of the principles of our 
democracy that are symbolized in the American flag. The ability of 
American citizens to speak their views, especially when those views are 
unpopular, against the status quo, or even considered outrageous, is an 
affirmative social good. It is those dissenting views that often bring 
about social changes, legal changes, and government changes that 
benefit all Americans. For example, I shudder to image that America 
would be today if the ``unpopular'' views of Dr. Martin Luther King, 
Jr. were silenced.
  The substitute offered by my colleague Mr. Watt protects all First 
Amendment Free Speech including those expressions that are critical of 
our local, state, and Federal governments. I proposed an Amendment to 
H.J. Res. 4, to protect Americans' right to speak our against their 
governments, even if they express themselves by desecrating the flag. I 
support Mr. Watt's substitute because it protects American's rights to 
voice unpopular views.
  I join many Americans in the belief that some desecrations of the 
flag are distasteful and offensive. However, my offense at some 
expressions of free speech is outweighed by my respect for the First 
Amendment. I may disagree with some how some Americans express their 
views by destroying the American flag. But I will not trample on the 
First Amendment to silence a voice with which I do not agree. H.J. Res. 
4 places limits on the manner in which some American may express their 
dissent with Government activity. This is an unacceptable limit on the 
content of the dissent itself.
  Mr. Watt's substitute to H.J. Res. 4, ensures that every American can 
voice their opinions in a way that is consistent with the First 
Amendment to the United States Constitution, including speech that is 
critical of our local, State, and Federal governments.
  Mr. Speaker, I reject H.J. Res. 4 as it is presently written. I 
support Mr. Watt's substitute to H.J. Res. 4, and urge my colleagues to 
support the substitute to protect the First Amendment freedoms of all 
Americans.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry). Pursuant to House 
Resolution 255, the previous question is ordered on the amendment in 
the nature of a substitute and on the joint resolution.
  The question is on the amendment in the nature of a substitute 
offered by the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt).
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the noes appeared to have it.
  Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a 
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not 
present.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
  The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
  The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 129, 
nays 296, not voting 8, as follows:

                             [Roll No. 233]

                               YEAS--129

     Abercrombie
     Ackerman
     Allen
     Baldwin
     Ballance
     Becerra
     Bell
     Blumenauer
     Boucher
     Brady (PA)
     Brown (OH)
     Brown, Corrine
     Capps
     Capuano
     Cardin
     Carson (IN)
     Case
     Clay
     Clyburn
     Cummings
     Davis (AL)
     Davis (IL)
     DeFazio
     DeLauro
     Dicks
     Dooley (CA)
     Emanuel
     Engel
     Eshoo
     Etheridge
     Evans
     Farr
     Fattah
     Filner
     Ford
     Frank (MA)
     Frost
     Gilchrest
     Gonzalez
     Greenwood
     Grijalva
     Hastings (FL)
     Hill
     Hinchey
     Hoeffel
     Holt
     Honda
     Hooley (OR)
     Inslee
     Israel
     Jackson (IL)
     Jackson-Lee (TX)
     Jefferson
     Johnson, E. B.
     Jones (OH)
     Kaptur
     Kennedy (RI)
     Kilpatrick
     Kind
     Kleczka
     Kucinich
     Lampson
     Larsen (WA)
     Leach
     Lee
     Lofgren
     Lowey
     Majette
     Maloney
     Markey
     Matheson
     Matsui
     McCarthy (MO)
     McCollum
     McDermott
     McGovern
     McNulty
     Meehan
     Meeks (NY)
     Millender-McDonald
     Miller (NC)
     Miller, George
     Moore
     Moran (VA)
     Nadler
     Neal (MA)
     Oberstar
     Obey
     Olver
     Otter
     Owens
     Paul
     Payne
     Pelosi
     Price (NC)
     Rangel
     Roybal-Allard
     Rush
     Ryan (OH)
     Sabo
     Sanchez, Linda T.
     Sanchez, Loretta
     Sanders
     Schakowsky
     Schiff
     Scott (VA)
     Serrano
     Slaughter
     Solis
     Spratt
     Stark
     Tanner
     Tauscher
     Thompson (CA)
     Thompson (MS)
     Tierney
     Towns
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)
     Van Hollen
     Velazquez
     Visclosky
     Waters

[[Page H4842]]


     Watson
     Watt
     Waxman
     Weiner
     Woolsey
     Wu

                               NAYS--296

     Aderholt
     Akin
     Alexander
     Andrews
     Baca
     Bachus
     Baird
     Baker
     Ballenger
     Barrett (SC)
     Bartlett (MD)
     Barton (TX)
     Bass
     Beauprez
     Bereuter
     Berkley
     Berman
     Berry
     Biggert
     Bilirakis
     Bishop (GA)
     Bishop (NY)
     Bishop (UT)
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boehlert
     Boehner
     Bonilla
     Bonner
     Bono
     Boozman
     Boswell
     Boyd
     Bradley (NH)
     Brady (TX)
     Brown (SC)
     Brown-Waite, Ginny
     Burgess
     Burns
     Burr
     Burton (IN)
     Buyer
     Calvert
     Camp
     Cannon
     Cantor
     Capito
     Cardoza
     Carter
     Castle
     Chabot
     Chocola
     Coble
     Cole
     Collins
     Cooper
     Costello
     Cox
     Cramer
     Crane
     Crenshaw
     Crowley
     Cubin
     Culberson
     Cunningham
     Davis (CA)
     Davis (FL)
     Davis (TN)
     Davis, Jo Ann
     Davis, Tom
     Deal (GA)
     DeGette
     Delahunt
     DeLay
     DeMint
     Deutsch
     Diaz-Balart, L.
     Diaz-Balart, M.
     Dingell
     Doggett
     Doolittle
     Doyle
     Dreier
     Duncan
     Dunn
     Edwards
     Ehlers
     Emerson
     English
     Everett
     Feeney
     Ferguson
     Flake
     Fletcher
     Foley
     Forbes
     Fossella
     Franks (AZ)
     Frelinghuysen
     Gallegly
     Garrett (NJ)
     Gerlach
     Gibbons
     Gillmor
     Gingrey
     Goode
     Goodlatte
     Gordon
     Goss
     Granger
     Graves
     Green (TX)
     Green (WI)
     Gutierrez
     Gutknecht
     Hall
     Harman
     Harris
     Hart
     Hastings (WA)
     Hayes
     Hayworth
     Hefley
     Hensarling
     Hinojosa
     Hobson
     Hoekstra
     Holden
     Hostettler
     Houghton
     Hoyer
     Hulshof
     Hunter
     Hyde
     Isakson
     Issa
     Istook
     Janklow
     Jenkins
     John
     Johnson (CT)
     Johnson (IL)
     Johnson, Sam
     Jones (NC)
     Kanjorski
     Keller
     Kelly
     Kennedy (MN)
     Kildee
     King (IA)
     King (NY)
     Kingston
     Kirk
     Kline
     Knollenberg
     Kolbe
     LaHood
     Langevin
     Lantos
     Latham
     LaTourette
     Levin
     Lewis (CA)
     Lewis (GA)
     Lewis (KY)
     Linder
     Lipinski
     LoBiondo
     Lucas (KY)
     Lucas (OK)
     Lynch
     Manzullo
     Marshall
     McCarthy (NY)
     McCotter
     McCrery
     McHugh
     McInnis
     McIntyre
     McKeon
     Meek (FL)
     Menendez
     Mica
     Michaud
     Miller (FL)
     Miller (MI)
     Miller, Gary
     Mollohan
     Moran (KS)
     Murphy
     Murtha
     Musgrave
     Myrick
     Napolitano
     Nethercutt
     Ney
     Northup
     Norwood
     Nunes
     Nussle
     Ortiz
     Osborne
     Ose
     Oxley
     Pallone
     Pascrell
     Pastor
     Pearce
     Pence
     Peterson (MN)
     Peterson (PA)
     Petri
     Pickering
     Pitts
     Platts
     Pombo
     Pomeroy
     Porter
     Portman
     Pryce (OH)
     Putnam
     Quinn
     Radanovich
     Rahall
     Ramstad
     Regula
     Rehberg
     Renzi
     Reyes
     Reynolds
     Rodriguez
     Rogers (AL)
     Rogers (KY)
     Rogers (MI)
     Rohrabacher
     Ros-Lehtinen
     Ross
     Rothman
     Royce
     Ruppersberger
     Ryun (KS)
     Sandlin
     Saxton
     Schrock
     Scott (GA)
     Sensenbrenner
     Sessions
     Shadegg
     Shaw
     Shays
     Sherman
     Sherwood
     Shimkus
     Shuster
     Simmons
     Simpson
     Skelton
     Smith (MI)
     Smith (NJ)
     Smith (TX)
     Snyder
     Souder
     Stearns
     Stenholm
     Strickland
     Stupak
     Sullivan
     Sweeney
     Tancredo
     Tauzin
     Taylor (MS)
     Taylor (NC)
     Terry
     Thomas
     Thornberry
     Tiahrt
     Tiberi
     Toomey
     Turner (OH)
     Turner (TX)
     Upton
     Vitter
     Walden (OR)
     Walsh
     Wamp
     Weldon (FL)
     Weldon (PA)
     Weller
     Whitfield
     Wicker
     Wilson (NM)
     Wilson (SC)
     Wolf
     Wynn
     Young (AK)
     Young (FL)

                             NOT VOTING--8

     Carson (OK)
     Conyers
     Gephardt
     Herger
     Larson (CT)
     Ryan (WI)
     Smith (WA)
     Wexler


                Announcement by the Speaker Pro Tempore

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry) (during the vote). Members 
are advised that 2 minutes remain for this vote.

                              {time}  1737

  Messrs. PASCRELL, DEUTSCH, FRANKS of Arizona, PETRI, LEWIS of 
Georgia, BISHOP of New York, SMITH of Michigan, FLAKE and SHADEGG 
changed their vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''
  Mr. Otter changed his vote from ``nay'' to ``yea.''
  So the amendment in the nature of a substitute was rejected.
  The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry). The question is on 
engrossment and third reading of the joint resolution.
  The joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed and read a third 
time, and was read the third time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on passage of the joint 
resolution.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of 
those present have voted in the affirmative.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. This vote will be followed by a 5-minute 
vote on the motion to suspend the rules and adopt House Resolution 231 
on which the yeas and nays were postponed yesterday.
  The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 300, 
nays 125, not voting 8, as follows:

                             [Roll No. 234]

                               YEAS--300

     Aderholt
     Akin
     Alexander
     Andrews
     Baca
     Bachus
     Baird
     Baker
     Ballenger
     Barrett (SC)
     Bartlett (MD)
     Barton (TX)
     Bass
     Beauprez
     Bell
     Bereuter
     Berkley
     Berry
     Biggert
     Bilirakis
     Bishop (GA)
     Bishop (NY)
     Bishop (UT)
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boehlert
     Boehner
     Bonilla
     Bonner
     Bono
     Boozman
     Boswell
     Boyd
     Bradley (NH)
     Brady (TX)
     Brown (OH)
     Brown (SC)
     Brown, Corrine
     Brown-Waite, Ginny
     Burgess
     Burns
     Burr
     Burton (IN)
     Buyer
     Calvert
     Camp
     Cannon
     Cantor
     Capito
     Capps
     Cardoza
     Carter
     Castle
     Chabot
     Chocola
     Clyburn
     Coble
     Cole
     Collins
     Costello
     Cox
     Cramer
     Crane
     Crenshaw
     Crowley
     Cubin
     Culberson
     Cunningham
     Davis (FL)
     Davis (TN)
     Davis, Jo Ann
     Davis, Tom
     Deal (GA)
     Delahunt
     DeLay
     DeMint
     Deutsch
     Diaz-Balart, L.
     Diaz-Balart, M.
     Dooley (CA)
     Doolittle
     Doyle
     Duncan
     Dunn
     Edwards
     Emerson
     English
     Etheridge
     Everett
     Feeney
     Ferguson
     Fletcher
     Foley
     Forbes
     Ford
     Fossella
     Franks (AZ)
     Frelinghuysen
     Frost
     Gallegly
     Garrett (NJ)
     Gerlach
     Gibbons
     Gillmor
     Gingrey
     Goode
     Goodlatte
     Gordon
     Goss
     Granger
     Graves
     Green (TX)
     Green (WI)
     Gutierrez
     Gutknecht
     Hall
     Harman
     Harris
     Hart
     Hastings (WA)
     Hayes
     Hayworth
     Hefley
     Hensarling
     Hinojosa
     Hobson
     Holden
     Hostettler
     Houghton
     Hulshof
     Hunter
     Hyde
     Isakson
     Issa
     Istook
     Janklow
     Jefferson
     Jenkins
     John
     Johnson (CT)
     Johnson (IL)
     Johnson, Sam
     Jones (NC)
     Kanjorski
     Kaptur
     Keller
     Kelly
     Kennedy (MN)
     Kildee
     King (IA)
     King (NY)
     Kingston
     Kirk
     Kline
     Knollenberg
     Kolbe
     Kucinich
     LaHood
     Lampson
     Langevin
     Lantos
     Latham
     LaTourette
     Lewis (CA)
     Lewis (KY)
     Linder
     Lipinski
     LoBiondo
     Lucas (KY)
     Lucas (OK)
     Lynch
     Manzullo
     Marshall
     McCarthy (NY)
     McCotter
     McCrery
     McGovern
     McHugh
     McInnis
     McIntyre
     McKeon
     McNulty
     Meek (FL)
     Menendez
     Mica
     Michaud
     Millender-McDonald
     Miller (FL)
     Miller (MI)
     Miller, Gary
     Mollohan
     Moran (KS)
     Murphy
     Murtha
     Musgrave
     Myrick
     Napolitano
     Neal (MA)
     Nethercutt
     Ney
     Northup
     Norwood
     Nunes
     Nussle
     Ortiz
     Osborne
     Ose
     Otter
     Oxley
     Pallone
     Pascrell
     Pearce
     Pence
     Peterson (MN)
     Peterson (PA)
     Pickering
     Pitts
     Platts
     Pombo
     Pomeroy
     Porter
     Portman
     Pryce (OH)
     Putnam
     Quinn
     Radanovich
     Rahall
     Ramstad
     Regula
     Rehberg
     Renzi
     Reyes
     Reynolds
     Rodriguez
     Rogers (AL)
     Rogers (KY)
     Rogers (MI)
     Rohrabacher
     Ros-Lehtinen
     Ross
     Rothman
     Royce
     Ruppersberger
     Ryun (KS)
     Sanchez, Loretta
     Sandlin
     Saxton
     Schrock
     Scott (GA)
     Sensenbrenner
     Sessions
     Shaw
     Sherman
     Sherwood
     Shimkus
     Shuster
     Simmons
     Simpson
     Skelton
     Smith (MI)
     Smith (NJ)
     Smith (TX)
     Souder
     Spratt
     Stearns
     Stenholm
     Strickland
     Stupak
     Sullivan
     Sweeney
     Tancredo
     Tauzin
     Taylor (MS)
     Taylor (NC)
     Terry
     Thomas
     Thompson (MS)
     Thornberry
     Tiahrt
     Tiberi
     Toomey
     Towns
     Turner (OH)
     Turner (TX)
     Upton
     Vitter
     Walden (OR)
     Walsh
     Wamp
     Weldon (FL)
     Weldon (PA)
     Weller
     Whitfield
     Wicker
     Wilson (NM)
     Wilson (SC)
     Wolf
     Wynn
     Young (AK)
     Young (FL)

                               NAYS--125

     Abercrombie
     Ackerman
     Allen
     Baldwin
     Ballance
     Becerra
     Berman
     Blumenauer
     Boucher
     Brady (PA)
     Capuano
     Cardin
     Carson (IN)
     Case
     Clay
     Cooper
     Cummings
     Davis (AL)
     Davis (CA)
     Davis (IL)
     DeFazio
     DeGette
     DeLauro
     Dicks
     Dingell
     Doggett
     Dreier
     Ehlers
     Emanuel
     Engel
     Eshoo
     Evans
     Farr
     Fattah
     Filner
     Flake
     Frank (MA)
     Gilchrest
     Gonzalez
     Greenwood
     Grijalva
     Hastings (FL)
     Hill
     Hinchey
     Hoeffel
     Hoekstra
     Holt
     Honda
     Hooley (OR)
     Hoyer
     Inslee
     Israel
     Jackson (IL)
     Jackson-Lee (TX)
     Johnson, E. B.
     Jones (OH)
     Kennedy (RI)
     Kilpatrick
     Kind
     Kleczka
     Larsen (WA)
     Leach
     Lee
     Levin
     Lewis (GA)
     Lofgren
     Lowey
     Majette

[[Page H4843]]


     Maloney
     Markey
     Matheson
     Matsui
     McCarthy (MO)
     McCollum
     McDermott
     Meehan
     Meeks (NY)
     Miller (NC)
     Miller, George
     Moore
     Moran (VA)
     Nadler
     Oberstar
     Obey
     Olver
     Owens
     Pastor
     Paul
     Payne
     Pelosi
     Petri
     Price (NC)
     Rangel
     Roybal-Allard
     Rush
     Ryan (OH)
     Sabo
     Sanchez, Linda T.
     Sanders
     Schakowsky
     Schiff
     Scott (VA)
     Serrano
     Shadegg
     Shays
     Slaughter
     Snyder
     Solis
     Stark
     Tanner
     Tauscher
     Thompson (CA)
     Tierney
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)
     Van Hollen
     Velazquez
     Visclosky
     Waters
     Watson
     Watt
     Waxman
     Weiner
     Woolsey
     Wu

                             NOT VOTING--8

     Carson (OK)
     Conyers
     Gephardt
     Herger
     Larson (CT)
     Ryan (WI)
     Smith (WA)
     Wexler


                Announcement by the Speaker Pro Tempore

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Thornberry) (during the vote). Members 
have 2 minutes remaining in this vote.

                              {time}  1754

  Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California and Mrs. NAPOLITANO changed their 
vote from ``nay'' to ``yea.''
  So (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the joint resolution 
was passed.
  The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________