Constitutional Law Archive

Monday

5

May 2014

1

COMMENTS

Question: Is it legal to fly the flag upside down?

Written by , Posted in Constitutional Law

Answer:

An individual has the right to fly an American flag upside down. The First Amendment of our Constitution not only ensures freedom of speech in the traditional sense, but also protects conduct, symbols, and non-verbal speech that convey an idea or a particularized message. Since 1989, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that conduct pertaining to the flag, including flag burning, is expressive conduct within the ambit of First Amendment protection. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 , 404-6 (1989). As recently as four months ago, in Congine v. Village of Crivitz, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin extended citizens’ expressive rights by holding that it is a constitutional violation to forbid the public display of an upside down American flag.

It is uncertain whether or not the Supreme Court will weigh in on the “upside down flag” issue. Nevertheless, given that the Supreme Court continuously upholds expressive conduct regarding displays of the American flag, it is likely that it will agree with Wisconsin District

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Monday

30

September 2013

0

COMMENTS

Question: Is it legal to fly the confederate flag?

Written by , Posted in Constitutional Law, Statutory Law

Answer:

The freedom of speech protection provided by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows people to fly the confederate flag on their own property. However, the Government is not required to permit all forms of speech on public property. The legality of flying a confederate flag in public areas depends upon whether the area is designated as a public forum, limited public forum, or nonpublic forum.
Traditional public forums include public streets, sidewalks, and parks, while limited or designated public forums include public auditoriums or theaters. The Government may restrict speech in these forums if the restriction is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest. Nonpublic forums include areas such as airports and cemeteries; the Government is allowed to restrict speech in nonpublic forums so long as the restriction is reasonable and not an effort to suppress expression because public officials oppose the speaker’s view.

Multiple courts have upheld restrictions prohibiting confederate flags from being displayed in cemeteries, while courts in some states (such as South Carolina and Alabama) have approved the display of the confederate flag atop state buildings. Although a person is free to fly a confederate flag at their own home, one could potentially be restricted from doing so in a public place.

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Tuesday

28

May 2013

0

COMMENTS

Question: Is it Illegal to Lie to a Cop?

Written by , Posted in Constitutional Law

Answer:

First, keep in mind, that every state has its own statute or law that would govern such conduct. However, most states have some law on the books that addresses this type of conduct. Usually, it is in the form of some type of obstruction of justice charge or something related. For instance, in Minnesota where I practice, we have a statue entitled providing “false information to a police officer”. For instance, if an individual is pulled for a traffic violation and the officer asks the driver his or her name and the individual provides a false name, then the driver could be charged with a crime.

In Minnesota, it is a Misdemeanor if the name provided by the individual is a name that doesn’t really exist and a more serious level of Gross Misdemeanor if the driver actually gives the name of an actual person other than themselves.

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