Burning the American flag has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to be an acceptable form of political expression. But in Idaho, flying a red flag can still land you in jail.
The Supreme Court last month invalidated a Texas law that made flag-burning a crime. Its ruling set off a firestorm of controversy across the country and effectively extinguished similar laws in 47 other states, including Idaho.The state's flag-burning law carried misdemeanor penalties. But Deputy Attorney General Dan Chadwick said Idaho still has an even tougher flag law on the books that can mean jail time for violators.
The statute prohibits display of "a red flag disloyal to the United States." Conviction under the law can bring a fine of $1,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
Enacted in 1972, the state's "Red Flag" law makes it a felony to display flags depicting disloyalty or advocating anarchy in the United States.
"It's really kind of bizarre," Chadwick said. "On one hand, it was a misdemeanor to desecrate the flag of the country, while on the other it's a felony to display a red flag."
He was unaware whether there have been any convictions under the law.