Text: S.1911 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (10/24/2005)


109th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 1911


To provide for the protection of the flag of the United States, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

October 24, 2005

Mr. Bennett (for himself and Mrs. Clinton) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To provide for the protection of the flag of the United States, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Flag Protection Act of 2005”.

SEC. 2. Findings and purpose.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds that—

(1) the flag of the United States is a unique symbol of national unity and represents the values of liberty, justice, and equality that make this Nation an example of freedom unmatched throughout the world;

(2) the Bill of Rights is a guarantee of those freedoms and should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom, a course that is regularly resorted to by authoritarian governments which fear freedom and not by free and democratic nations;

(3) abuse of the flag of the United States causes more than pain and distress to the overwhelming majority of the American people and may amount to fighting words or a direct threat to the physical and emotional well-being of individuals at whom the threat is targeted; and

(4) destruction of the flag of the United States can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.

(b) Purpose.—The purpose of this Act is to provide the maximum protection against the use of the flag of the United States to promote violence while respecting the liberties that it symbolizes.

SEC. 3. Protection of the flag of the United States against use for promoting violence.

(a) In general.—Section 700 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

§ 700. Incitement; damage or destruction of property involving the flag of the United States

“(a) Definition of flag of the United States.—In this section, the term ‘flag of the United States’ means any flag of the United States, or any part thereof, made of any substance, in any size, in a form that is commonly displayed as a flag and that would be taken to be a flag by the reasonable observer.

“(b) Actions promoting violence.—Any person who destroys or damages a flag of the United States with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, and under circumstances in which the person knows that it is reasonably likely to produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

“(c) Flag burning.—Any person who shall intentionally threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons by burning, or causing to be burned, a flag of the United States shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.

“(d) Damaging a flag belonging to the United States.—Any person who steals or knowingly converts to his or her use, or to the use of another, a flag of the United States belonging to the United States, and who intentionally destroys or damages that flag, shall be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

“(e) Damaging a flag of another on Federal land.—Any person who, within any lands reserved for the use of the United States, or under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction of the United States, steals or knowingly converts to his or her use, or to the use of another, a flag of the United States belonging to another person, and who intentionally destroys or damages that flag, shall be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

“(f) Construction.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to indicate an intent on the part of Congress to deprive any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico of jurisdiction over any offense over which it would have jurisdiction in the absence of this section.”.

(b) Technical and conforming amendment.—The chapter analysis for chapter 33 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to section 700 and inserting the following:


“700. Incitement; damage or destruction of property involving the flag of the United States.”.

SEC. 4. Severability.

If any provision of this Act, or the application of such a provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the Act, and the application of this Act to any other person or circumstance, shall not be affected by such holding.