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Texas Vs Johnson

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Alexa Husmann-Miller

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of Texas Vs Johnson

Texas Vs Johnson
The Story...
In 1984, in front of the Dallas City Hall, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag as a means of protest against Reagan administration policies. Johnson was tried and convicted under a Texas law outlawing flag desecration. He was sentenced to one year in jail and assessed a $2,000 fine. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, the case went to the Supreme Court.
What was the Supreme Court vote in the majority?
The the vote was a 5-4 decision
What was the date for the majority decision?
The date was
June 21, 1989
Which justices voted for the majority?
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Justices Marshall
Blackmun
Scalia
Kennedy joining Brennan
Description of the majority opinion...
The majority opinion of the Supreme Court of Texas Vs. Johnson was that the burning or desecration of the flag was a protected right of Gregory Lee Johnson, under the First Amendment. This decision was made in 1989. Up until that time, 48 out of 50 states had laws prohibiting the desecration of the United States flag.
Petition before the Supreme Court...
The arguments for the (Gregory Lee Johnson) Plaintiff :
1. Johnson was charged with violating the Texas law that prohibits vandalizing respected objects (desecration of a venerated object)
2. Desecrated respected object
3. Offended people
Lower Court Verdict:
Johnson was charged with violating the Texas law that prohibits vandalizing respected objects (desecration of a venerated object). He was convicted, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000. He appealed his conviction to the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas, but he lost this appeal. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would then see his case. This was the highest court in Texas that would see Criminal Appeals. That court overturned his conviction, saying that the State could not punish Johnson for burning the flag because the First Amendment protects such activity as symbolic speech.
Who wrote the majority decision?
William J Brennan Jr. Wrote the majority decision
Petition before the Supreme Court Cont'd...
Arguments for the defendant:
1. Saying that the State could not punish Johnson for burning the flag because the First Amendment protects such activity as symbolic speech.
2. Did not hurt anyone
3. Freedom of protest
What does the Plaintiff desire?
Were there any Concurrent Opinions?
Yes by Justice Kennedy
What is the difference between Concurrent Opinions and Dissenting Opinions?
The Dissenting Opinion explains why the dissenting justice disagrees with the outcome and reasoning with the majority of the court. The Concurrent Opinion agrees with the outcome of the majority opinion but not necessarily the reasoning found in the majority opinion.
Did this case change/ add to/ or take from the Constitution or any of the Ammendments?
Does this case remain relevant or has it been superseded by another case?
Texas Vs. Johnson Case of 1989
How are the Concurrent Opinions different from the Majority Opinions?
What was the Supreme Court vote in the dissent?
Which Justice wrote the opinion for the dissent?
Description of the dissenting opinion...
The concurrent opinion by Kennedy stated that the flag is our symbol of our rights, but it is protecting the ones who hold it in contempt. This basically means that he believes the burning of the flag was wrong but the law under the flag, which is a symbol of freedom, does not back it up
William H. Rehnquist, joined by two other justices, argued that the "uniqueness" of the flag "justifies a governmental prohibition against flag burning in the way Johnson did.
John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion for the dissent
Stevens argued that the flag "is more than a proud symbol of the courage, the determination, and the gifts of nature that transformed 13 fledgling Colonies into a world power. It is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other peoples who share our aspirations...The value of the flag as a symbol cannot be measured." Stevens concluded, therefore, that "The case has nothing to do with 'disagreeable ideas.' It involves disagreeable conduct that, in my opinion, diminishes the value of an important national asset," and that Johnson was punished only for the means by which he expressed his opinion, not the opinion itself.
The Court's decision invalidated laws in force in 48 of the 50 states. More than two decades later, the issue remains controversial; recent polls suggest that a majority of Americans still support a ban on flag-burning.[5] Congress did, however, pass a statute, the 1989 Flag Protection Act, making it a federal crime to desecrate the flag
Johnson wanted his charges dropped.
Flag burning today is still a controversial topic as they have not necessarily set up a law for it.
Full transcript