The ACLU of Indiana raised concerns regarding recent flag desecration charges. Two men in Fishers, Indiana were arrested and charged with arson and flag desecration after an American flag displayed at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater was burned on July Fourth.
The ACLU of Indiana issued this statement:
“In 1989, in Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the defendant’s act of burning an American flag during a protest rally was expressive conduct fully protected by the First Amendment. Based on this, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reiterated that the First Amendment forbids punishing people who desecrate the American flag.
“The ACLU of Indiana has previously challenged Indiana’s flag desecration law in a 2004 lawsuit, Lawson v. Hill. The 2004 case on behalf of an Indiana high school student was filed against then Prosecutor Curtis Hill. In ruling against the student, Federal Circuit Court Judge Posner stated that Prosecutor Hill ‘told the police not to investigate whether the students were violating the statute. The reason for his forbearance was that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment forbids punishing people who desecrate the American flag.’
“We understand that every prosecution depends on case specific facts. While the facts in Fishers are still emerging, we are concerned that charging these individuals with flag desecration sends a message to the public that Indiana state law punishes individuals for constitutionally protected expression. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to react quickly and forcefully to any attempts to restrict the protections of the First Amendment.”