The Senate on Friday passed legislation aimed at making desecration of the flag unlawful.
The aim of the amendment, approved by voice vote without dissent, is to circumvent the effect of a Supreme Court decision earlier in the week that held that destruction of the flag is protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech."I'm confident it's constitutional," Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the judiciary panel and a leading congressional liberal, told his colleagues. Biden's measure was tacked onto an unrelated child care bill.
Biden's measure, which adds a new section to federal law dealing with defacing U.S. property, makes it a misdemeanor to burn, trample on, throw down or otherwise deface the flag.
Biden did not explain how the provision could be constitutional while similar provisions of existing federal law, under the decision Wednesday, would not be. There was no one in his office after the Senate session and no answer at Biden's home. (Related stories on A3.)