On Tuesday, the justices hear oral argument in Nutraceutical Corp. Lambert and Carpenter v.
After a march through the city streets, Johnson burned an American flag while protesters chanted. No one was physically injured or threatened with injury, although several witnesses were seriously offended by the flag burning.
Johnson was convicted of desecration of a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute, and a state court of appeals affirmed. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, holding that the State, consistent with the First Amendment, could not punish Johnson for burning the flag in these circumstances.
The court concluded that the State could not criminally sanction flag desecration in order to preserve the flag as a symbol of national unity. Further, it stressed that another Texas statute prohibited breaches of the peace and could be used to prevent disturbances without punishing this flag desecration.
The State conceded that the conduct was expressive. Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent.
An interest in preventing breaches of the peace is not implicated on this record. Expression may not be prohibited Page U. It is therefore subject to "the most exacting scrutiny.
The Government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable, even where our flag is involved. Nor may a State foster its own view of the flag by prohibiting expressive conduct relating to it, since the Government may not permit designated symbols to be used to communicate a limited set of messages.
Moreover, this Court will not create an exception to these principles protected by the First Amendment for the American flag alone.
After publicly burning an American flag as a means of political protest, Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted of desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. This case presents the question whether his conviction is consistent with the First Amendment. We hold that it is not. The demonstrators marched through the Dallas streets, chanting political slogans and stopping at several corporate locations to stage "die-ins" intended to dramatize the consequences of nuclear war.
On several occasions they spray-painted the walls of buildings and overturned potted plants, but Johnson himself took no part in such activities. He did, however, accept an American flag handed to him by a fellow protestor who had taken it from a flagpole outside one of the targeted buildings.
The demonstration ended in front of Dallas City Hall, where Johnson unfurled the American flag, doused it with kerosene, and set it on fire. While the flag burned, the protestors chanted, "America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you.
No one was physically injured or threatened with injury, though several witnesses testified that they had been seriously offended by the flag burning. The only criminal offense with which he was charged was the desecration of a venerated object in violation of Tex.
The Court of Criminal Appeals held that neither interest supported his conviction. Therefore, that very same government cannot carve out a symbol of unity and prescribe a set of approved messages to be associated with that symbol when it cannot mandate the status or feeling the symbol purports to represent.
And in fact, the court emphasized, the flag burning in this particular case did not threaten such a reaction. The court also stressed that another Texas statute, Tex.
We granted certiorari, U. II Johnson was convicted of flag desecration for burning the flag, rather than for uttering insulting words. A Page U. The First Amendment literally forbids the abridgment only of "speech," but we have long recognized that its protection does not end at the spoken or written word.
In deciding whether particular conduct possesses sufficient communicative elements to bring the First Amendment into play, we have asked whether "[a]n intent to convey a particularized message was present, and [whether] the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it.Johnson CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OF TEXAS _____ No.
Argued: March 21, Decided: June 21, This case analysis of Texas v. Gregory Lee Johnson was a Supreme Court case that overthrew bans on damaging the American flag in 48 of the 50 states. Unsatisfied with the decision, the state of Texas, appealed the ruling to the United States Supreme Court.
Johnson was convicted of desecration of a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute, and a state court of appeals affirmed. U.S. Supreme Court Texas v. Johnson, U.S. () Texas v. Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general. Texas v. Johnson () Summary This Landmark Supreme Court Cases and the Constitution eLesson focuses on a case involving expressive conduct, and what is for many a deeply cherished symbol of America—the U.S. flag. In a closely divided () ruling, the Supreme Court held that states could not forbid burning the U.S. flag in . Johnson was convicted of desecration of a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute, and a state court of appeals affirmed. The State of Texas conceded for purposes of its oral argument in this case that Johnson's conduct was expressive Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. , of any typographical or other.
Decision: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a decision in favor of Johnson. Johnson was convicted of desecration of a venerated object in violation of a Texas statute, and a state court of appeals affirmed. of expression and would therefore permit application of the test set forth in United States v.
that this interest is related to expression in the case of Johnson's burning of the flag. The State, apparently.
The Supreme Court of the United States blog. October Term ; October Term ; State standing and United States v. Texas (Amanda Frost) Argument preview: A big, Why United States v. Texas is the most important case the Court will decide this year (Dan Stein) Symposium: Unable to show harm, can Texas employ the Court as a .
A Texas court tried and convicted Johnson. He appealed, arguing that his actions were "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court agreed to . Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.
C. , of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.