The Case : The Case In 1984, in front of the Dallas City Hall, Gregory Johnson burned an American flag as a protest against the Reagan administration. Johnson was convicted under a Texas law that stated purposeful damage to the flag was illegal. He was sentenced to one year in jail and made to pay a $2,000 fine. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, the case went to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Ruling : Supreme Court Ruling In a 5-4 vote in favor of Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that the burning of the American flag was a right preserved in the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court stated that just because an audience takes offense to a particular action, that does not justify prohibitions of speech.
Relation to Constitution : Relation to Constitution This case was a First Amendment case because the act of burning the flag was considered a protected expression under the First Amentment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”(First Amendment of US Constitution).
IMPACT : IMPACT The Supreme Court stated that State officials did not have the authority to designate symbols to be used to communicate only limited sets of messages.
Supreme Court noted that “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable”.