Patriotism and respecting the flag has been in the news lately with the NFL anthem protests. In that vein, a Louisiana parish has decided to outlaw the burning of the U.S. flag.
A Louisiana parish has adopted an ordinance prohibiting flag desecration.
Iberville Paris Council Chairman Matt Jewell said that the measure was symbolic and pre-emptive, and not sparked by any local incidents.
The desecration of the American, state or parish flag carries a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail under the new law.
The ordinance drew no opposition at the public hearing before Tuesday’s vote, and was vocally supported by a small group of veterans. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has criticized the ordinance, calling it unenforceable.
My initial reaction to this ordinance, courtesy of Gordon Ramsey:
This flag ordinance is blatantly unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legal right to burn the U.S. flag as a form of constitutionally protected speech. Should you burn the flag? No, but it is legal. An Iberville Parish ordinance does not supersede the U.S. Constitution.
Iberville Parish has either made a mockery of the law or it has subjected its residents to high legal bills if they decide to enforce this ordinance. Passing a law that cannot be enforced makes a mockery of the law. If the parish decides to enforce the ordinance, it will be sued by the ACLU and the ACLU will win. The money to defend the law in court will have to come from parish taxpayers. Surely Iberville Parish can spend its tax dollars on something other than no win lawsuits.
This ordinance may make Iberville Parish residents and politicians feel good, but it is an unconstitutional sham. The parish would be wise to take the ordinance off the books before it causes the parish real problems.