Campaign to Amend Constitution Loses Ground Despite Multi-Million Dollar Campaign; Margin of Passage for the Flag Desecration Constitutional Amendment Shrinks For Third Vote in a Row

June 24, 1999 12:00 am


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WASHINGTON– Despite news reports that supporters of the “Flag Desecration Constitutional Amendment” spent more than $15 million dollars in its campaign to amend the Constitution, today’s vote for the amendment dropped by five from last year, the American Civil Liberties Union said. Although the measure passed, this marks the third year of declining support for the amendment.

“Although disappointing, today’s vote shows that the movement to amend the Bill of Rights has lost momentum in the House,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s National Washington Office. “We’re hopeful that Senators will recognize that the American public has shown no overwhelming desire to amend the Constitution to address something that happens only a handful of times a year.”

The amendment passed by a vote of 305-124, just 15 more than the 290 votes required for passage of a constitutional amendment. The amendment was passed 310-114 in 1997, and 312-120 in 1995.

While supporters of the flag amendment have touted poll numbers showing that the American public supports outlawing flag desecration, other polls have shown much less support for amending the Constitution. In 1995, for example, by 52 percent to 38 percent, Americans rejected such an amendment when they discovered it would be the first in our history to restrict our First Amendment freedoms.

“Veterans and religious leaders have stepped forward to say this constitutional amendment would take America in the wrong direction,” said Terri Schroeder, a legislative analyst for the ACLU. “Together we will remind the Senate that amending the Constitution to mandate patriotism will accomplish nothing more than diminish the very freedoms the flag represents.”

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