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Flag Desecration Study Guide   .7

 

A:  Selected Presidents   (pp. 827-829)

 

Presidents

Lyndon B. Johnson (D), responsible for Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (control N. Vietnam aggression); elected to one

     term; did not run for re-election.

Richard Nixon (R), ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War; elected  to two terms.

George Bush (R), incumbent president defeated for a second term; passage of flag laws started.

 

The act of flag desecration (dishonoring the American flag in any way) started during the Vietnam War.  President Nixon (R) further increased U.S. strength in Vietnam and then ended the United States’ involvement there.  During the Vietnam War, flag burning was the most common form of flag desecration.  It was used to protest America’s involvement in Vietnam.  Other forms of protest that were used were marches, rallies, and violence. Flag desecration, marches, and rallies were not illegal at the time of the Vietnam War. The passage of laws to protect  United States flags started under President Bush, Sr.

 

QUESTIONS:

A1.   Who is the only president above that is a Democrat?

A2.   Who requested Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution?

A3.   Which presidents listed above are Republicans?

A4.   Who ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War?

A5.   Who is the only incumbent president listed above defeated for a second term?

A6.   Who was president when the passage of flag laws started?

 


 


B1:  Court Terms   (p. 816, 820)

 

Flag desecration became illegal around the time that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.  Everything started with a man named Gregory “Joey” Johnson, who had protested nuclear war at the Republican National Convention in 1984 by burning a flag. He wanted to show that he did not support the nomination of President Ronald Reagan (R) for a second term.  He was arrested in Texas and later convicted by a state court.

·         state court:                    interprets that state’s laws; does not interpret federal laws

·         acquittal:                      the defendant is not found guilty

·         conviction:                    the defendant is found guilty

 

Johnson was very angry about being convicted, so he appealed to higher courts.  His case finally made its way to the highest court in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court.  The U.S. Supreme Court is part of the federal court system.  It is not part of the state court system.  The state court system is a separate system found in each state.  Johnson had already been tried in Texas’ courts.

·         appeal:                          to request that a higher court change the decision of a lower court

·         U.S. Supreme Court:   interprets federal laws and is limited in power by the U.S. Constitution

·         state court:                    interprets state laws and is limited in power by the U.S. Constitution and that

                                                                state’s own constitution

QUESTIONS:

B1.   In what year did the Berlin Wall fall?

B2.   What kind of court was Gregory Johnson convicted by?

B3.   What term describes a defendant being found guilty?

B4.   What kind of laws does a state court interpret?

B5.   Does a state court interpret  federal laws?

B6.   To request that a higher court change the decision of a lower court is to do what?

B7.   What is the highest court in the United States?

B8.   What kind of laws does the U.S. Supreme Court interpret?

B9.   The U.S. Supreme Court is part of what court system?

B10. What is a state court limited by?


 

 

B2:  Court Terms   (p. 816, 820)

 

Gregory Johnson’s U.S. Supreme Court case was called Texas v. Johnson.  In this case, Texas was the plaintiff and Johnson was the defendant.  After serious consideration, Johnson’s conviction was overturned, based on the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

 

 

QUESTIONS:

B11. Who files a complaint against the defendant?

B12. In criminal cases, who is the party accused of a crime?


 

 


C:  The First Amendment   (p. 821)

 

In Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment, which is sometimes considered to be the cornerstone of democracy.  The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and religion.  It is part of the Bill of Rights.  The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The First Amendment is important in relation to flag burning.

 

This amendment was also the basis for the decision in the New York Times v. U.S. Supreme Court case, also called   the “Pentagon Papers Case.” This case prohibited censorship of the press.

 

QUESTIONS:

C1.   Which amendment protects the freedom of speech and religion?

C2.   Which amendment is sometimes considered to be the cornerstone of democracy?

C3.   What is the First Amendment part of?

C4.   What is the term for the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

C5.   The First Amendment was also the basis for the decision in which other court case?

C6.   What is another name for the New York Times v. U.S. court case?

C7.   What did the “Pentagon Papers Case” prohibit?


 

 


D:  Who Wanted What Change to Protect U. S.  Flags?   (p. 814)

 

After Gregory Johnson’s Supreme Court case, President George Bush, Sr. (R) announced that he favored an amendment (not a bill) to make flag desecration illegal.  An amendment is a change made to the Constitution.  It is easier to overturn a bill than an amendment.  Therefore, Democrats helped propose the Flag Protection Act (a bill, that is a proposed law) to Congress instead of an amendment.  The Democrats took the lesser of the two evils.  Democrats did not really want a bill, but they wanted an amendment even less.  The Democrats’ position was the opposite of Bush’s position.

 

 

BILL

AMENDMENT

Democrats

YES

NO

Geo.  Bush, Sr. (r)

NO

YES

 

QUESTIONS:

D1.   What did Bush, Sr. want to have to make flag desecration illegal?

D2.   What is the term for a change made to the Constitution?

D3.   Is it easier to overturn a bill or an amendment?

D4.   Which political party helped propose a flag desecration bill to Congress?

D5.   Were the Democrats’ position the same or the opposite of Bush’s position?


 

 

E:  Congress   (p. 814 and 838)

 

Before the Flag Protection Act could become a law, it had to pass through the legislative and executive branches of the government.  All bills go through this process.  First, a bill must go through both houses of Congress.  The two houses (chambers) of Congress are the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Congress is in the legislative branch at the federal level.

 

CHAMBER

OF CONGRESS

TITLES

OF MEMBERS

NUMBER

OF MEMBERS

BASIS OF

SELECTING

MEMBERS

TERM

LENGTH

AREA

SERVED BY

MEMBERS

U.S. House of Representatives

Representatives  (Congresspeople)

435

State

population

(1 guaranteed)

2 years

Congressional

District

(CD)

U.S. Senate

U.S. Senators

100

Two per state

(guaranteed)

6 years

entire state

 

QUESTIONS:

E1.   When becoming a law, which branches of government must a bill pass through?

E2.   What are the two houses of Congress called?

E3.   In which branch of government is Congress (executive, legislative, judicial)?

E4.   In which level of government is Congress (federal, state, or local)?

E5.   How many members are in the House of Representatives?

E6.   What is the basis of selecting Representatives?

E7.   How long is a Representative’s term?

E8.   What is a Representative’s area called?

E9.   How many members are in the U. S.  Senate?

E10. What is the basis of selecting U. S. Senators?

E11. How long is a U. S. Senator’s term?

E12. What area does a U. S. Senator’s serve?


 


F:  How A Bill Becomes A Law   (p. 815; Ross, p. 124F)

 

A bill can be proposed in either house of Congress.  BUT, tax and spending bills may only originate in the House of Representatives.  If the bill starts in the House of Representatives, then it will pass through the House Rules Committee and other House standing committees.  If the bill starts in the Senate, it will advance through the Senate’s standing committees.  The Senate does not have a Rules Committee.

 

Each house has standing committees.  Standing committees are permanent and deal with separate subject matter.  Each standing committee has only Representatives or only Senators.  After the bill has been discussed in each part of Congress, it often  goes on to a conference committee.  A conference committee is made up of members from both houses.  These members work out any differences that the House of Representatives and Senate have.

 

QUESTIONS:

F1.   How many houses of Congress can a bill be proposed in?

F2.   What kinds of bills can only originate in the House of Representatives?

F3.   Which house of Congress has a Rules Committee?

F4.   Which houses have standing committees?

F5.   What is a standing committee?

F6.   Which committees has only Representatives or only Senators?

F7.   Where does a bill go after it has been discussed in each chamber of Congress?

F8.   What is a conference committee?

F9.   Can a conference committee have members from both houses of Congress?

F10. What do conference committee members do?


 

 

G:  The Executive Branch   (p. 823 and 838)

 

In the last step of the lawmaking process, the bill goes to President, the head of the executive branch of the government.  The President and the other people who work in the White House and other parts of the bureaucracy make up the Executive Branch at the federal level.  When the bill is sent to the White House, the President has two choices:  he can do something, or do nothing.  The President must decide to act or not within 10 days.

 

President Bush, Sr. (R) chose not to sign the Flag Protection Act (a bill).  Congress then decided to override this bill to become law  without the president’s signature.  It became a law in 1989, the same year that the Berlin Wall fell.  The fall of the Berlin Wall signified the end of the Cold War.

 

If the President…


Does Something

A.      Signs the bill à  bill becomes a law

B.       Returns the bill to Congress (veto) à  Congress can override the veto by a 2/3    vote

 (to override a veto requires a 2/3 majority from both chambers)

 

Does Nothing

C.       Waits 10 days (Congress is in session) à  bill becomes a law without the President’s signature

D.      Waits 10 days (Congress is not in session) à  pocket veto is sent to the President

(a pocket veto cannot be overridden by Congress)


 

QUESTIONS:

G1.   Who receives  a bill in the  last step of  the lawmaking process?

G2.   How much time does a president have to decide whether to act or not?

G3.   What did the fall of the Berlin Wall signify?

G4.   If the President signs a bill, what happens to the bill?

G5.   If the President vetoes the bill, who can override the decision?

G6.   What happens if the bill is not signed within 10 days and Congress is in session?

G7.   What happens if the bill is not signed within 10 days and Congress is not in session?

G8.   Can a pocket veto be overridden by Congress?


 

 


H1:  Interest Groups   (p. 811, 812)

 

Many people were angered when Congress passed the Flag Protection Act.  At twelve o’clock midnight on the day that the law went into effect, hundreds of people rebelled.  Vietnam War veterans burned flags, students demonstrated, and fights broke out.  Several committees were formed to help stop flag desecration laws.  The Emergency Committee to Stop the Flag Amendment and Laws was one of these committees.

 

Interest groups can also influence a legislator’s decision on whether or not he will vote on a certain measure of legislation.  An interest group, or pressure group, is an organization that tries to influence government actions so that its members will benefit.  Interest groups target all branches of government, all levels of government, and both major political parties.

 

QUESTIONS:

H1.   Whose decisions do interest groups influence?

H2.   What kind of  organization  tries to influence government actions so that its members benefit?

H3.   What is another term for an interest group?

H4.   What is another term for a pressure group?

H5.   Which branches of government do interest groups target?

H6.   Which levels of government do interest groups target?

H7.   Which major political parties do interest groups target?


 

 

H2:  Interest Groups   (p. 811, 812)

 

The American Civil Liberties Union is an interest group.  It supports free speech and opposes flag-burning laws and amendments.  Interest groups form because of legislation (process of making laws) that is going to affect people’s lives. Flag-burning legislation was started because many people thought that it was morally wrong to burn a flag.

 

QUESTIONS:

H8.   What is the American Civil Liberties Union?

H9.   What is legislation?

H10. What organization forms because of legislation that is going to affect people’s lives?


 

 


J:  Lobbying and Public Opinion   (p. 812, 813)

 

Interest groups use lobbying to influence decisions.  Lobbyists (people hired by interest groups to influence the government) use many techniques to help their interest groups.  The most common ways to help are:

1.        provide information to legislators

2.        start or participate in social movements

3.     run for office in order to become legislators

Most of all, lobbyists want to sway public opinion.  A public opinion consists of people’s thoughts and opinions on issues that affect their lives.  Public opinion was not in favor of the bill that made burning a flag illegal.  To find out how the public feels about a certain bill or law, a person can conduct a public opinion poll.

 

QUESTIONS:

J1.   What is the term used to describe interest group representatives?

J2.   What are the three most common ways to help an interest group (used by lobbyists)?

J3.   Most of all, what do lobbyists want to sway?

J4.   What consists of people’s thoughts and opinions on issues that affect their lives?

J5.   What can a person conduct to find out how the public feels about a certain bill or law?


 

 


K:  Amendments to the Constitution   (p. 814)

 

After interest groups had pressured the government for six months, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Flag Protection Act was unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court uses judicial review to declare that an act passed by Congress is unconstitutional.

 

Immediately after the Flag Protection Act was declared unconstitutional, a flag protection amendment was proposed to Congress.  Congress is the only body allowed to amend (change) the Constitution.  The President may not amend the Constitution.  There are two ways to enact an amendment.  The most common way is to have all three majorities:

1.         2/3 majority in the House of Representatives

2.         2/3 majority in the Senate

3.         3/4 majority of the state legislatures

 

QUESTIONS:

K1.   What does the Supreme Court use when it declares that an act passed by Congress is unconstitutional?

K2.   What is the only body allowed to amend (change) the Constitution?

K3.   To enact an amendment, what majority is needed in the House of Representatives?

K4.   To enact an amendment, what majority is needed in the Senate?

K5.   To enact an amendment, what majority is needed in the state legislatures?


 

 

L:  Party History   (p. 803, 807; Ross p. 273)

 

Political parties play a large role in the passage of amendments.  If the two major parties can agree on an amendment, it can be passed.  Below is the history of the two-party system.  Each party is a major party.  A major party usually gets people elected into office.  A minor party almost never gets people elected into office.  None of the following are minor parties.

 

POLITICAL

PARTY

Federalist

Anti-Federalist

Democratic

Republican

PAST

first

U.S. political party

Second

U.S. political party

evolved from

Anti-Federalist party

did NOT evolve

from Federalist party

ALSO

KNOWN AS

oldest party that

no longer exists

Democratic-Republican

oldest party that

still exists

GOP

(Grand Old Party)

POSITION

wanted the

Constitution;

got the Constitution

opposed the

Constitution;

wanted and got the

Bill of Rights

supports

affirmative action;

Pro-Choice

supports

school vouchers;

Pro-Life

IMPORTANT

MEMBERS

George Washington,

Alexander Hamilton

Thomas Jefferson,

Andrew Jackson

Franklin D. Roosevelt,

Lyndon B. Johnson

John C. Fremont,

Abraham Lincoln

STATUS

dead

Evolved

exists

exists


 

QUESTIONS:

L1.   What kind of party usually gets people elected into office?

L2.   What kind of party almost never gets people elected into office?

L3.   Which political party was the first U.S. political party?

L4.   Which party wanted and got the Constitution?

L5.   Which party did George Washington and Alexander Hamilton belong to?

L6.   What is the status of the Federalist party?

L7.   What is another name for the Anti-Federalist party?

L8.   Which party opposed the Constitution?

L9.   Which party did Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson belong to?

L10. Which party evolved from the Anti-Federalist party?

L11. Which party supports affirmative action and is Pro-Choice?

L12. Which party did Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson belong to?

L13. Which party is also called the GOP?

L14. What does the GOP stand for?

L15. Which party supports school vouchers and is Pro-Life?

L16. Which party did John C. Fremont and Abraham Lincoln belong to?


 

 


M: Political Party Cohesion   (p. 808; Ross p. 274)

 

The House of Representatives was able to pass the flag amendment with the necessary 2/3 majority, but the Senate could not achieve the required 2/3 majority of votes.  This is because of party loyalty.  The Republican party supports flag amendments.  The Democratic party opposes flag amendments.

 

The following table shows the final vote for a recently proposed flag amendment.

 

1999 Flag Amendment

Republicans

Democrats

Independents

YES

210  (49%)

  95 (22%)

0  (0%)

NO

10  (2%)

113 (26%)

    1  (0.2%)

 


 

Republicans tended to “stick together” (have cohesion) when voting.  Almost all Republicans voted in favor of the flag amendment.  However, Democrats were not as loyal to their party’s view on the flag amendment.  Democrats tend to be “ticket-splitters.” A ticket-splitter is a person who belongs to one party but votes for another party’s candidate or point of view.  For instance, when a Democrat votes for the Republican nominee, the Democrat is ticket splitting.

 

The Democratic party has less cohesion than Republicans on this issue.  Overall, Republicans are more loyal to their  party than Democrats are to their party.

 

QUESTIONS:

M1.   Which political party supports flag amendments?

M2.   Which political party opposes flag amendments?

M3.   Which party tends to “stick together” when voting?

M4.   Which party tends to not be as loyal to their party’s view on the flag amendment?

M5.   Which party members tend to be “ticket-splitters”?

M6.   What is a person doing when he belongs to one party but votes for another party’s candidate or point of view?

M7.   Which party will a ticket-splitter vote for (his party or another party)?

M8.   Which party has less cohesion on the flag amendment?

M9.   Overall, which party receives more loyalty from its members?


 


N:  Demographic Groups   (p. 805; Ross p. 274)

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal began after the 1929 stock market crash.  At about that time African Americans switched  from loyalty to the Republican party to loyalty to the Democratic party.  Since the New Deal, African Americans have been the most loyal voters of any party.  Democratic party members are most likely going to vote against a flag burning amendment.

 

However, for most of its history, the United States has been primarily WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).  This group still makes up the bulk of the voters and political activist groups of both major parties.  Even the presidents have all been WASPs, except for John F. Kennedy (D).  John F. Kennedy was  Catholic.

 

The following table shows which people will most likely vote Democrat or Republican.

 

POLITICAL

PARTY

INCOME

OCCUPATION

EDUCATION

ETHNICITY

Democrat

(most likely)

under $15,000

unskilled,

“blue collar”

less formal education

African American, Asian,

Latino, Native American

Republican

(most likely)

over $75,000

skilled,

“white collar”

more formal education

white, Caucasian,

South-East Asian

 

QUESTIONS:

N1.   What did Franklin D. Roosevelt begin after the 1929 stock market crash?

N2.   Which racial group switched parties because of the New Deal?

N3.   Which party did this racial group change to?

N4.   What racial group members have been the most loyal voters of the Democratic party?

N5.   What does WASP stand for?

N6.   Which party will someone who has an income under $15,000 most likely vote for?

N7.   Which party will someone who has an income under $75,000 most likely vote for?

N8.   Which party will an unskilled, “blue collar” worker most likely vote for?

N9.   Which party will a skilled, “white collar” worker most likely vote for?

N10. Which party will a less formally educated person most likely vote for?

N11. Which party will a more formally educated person most likely vote for?

N12. Which party will an African American, Asian, Latino, or Native American most likely vote for?

N13. Which party will a white, Caucasian, or South-East Asian most likely vote for?

 

 

O:  Today

 

Congress has tried to pass a flag amendment at least four times since 1989, the same year that the Berlin Wall fell.  Every single time the Senate rejected the amendment.  This rejection had to do with the opposition of most Democrats as well as some Republicans.  Political parties play a large role in the passage of amendments.  If the two major parties can agree on an amendment, it can be passed.

 

To this day, debates continue to be waged over whether we will have a flag amendment some day.  The infamous Gregory Johnson, the man who started everything, is now the national spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.  He speaks to America’s youth about free speech and the right to burn a flag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For a complete history on flag desecration, visit http://www.esquilax.com/flag on the internet.

Visit the ACLU online at http://www.aclu.org for the latest news on Congress and current political issues.

Be sure to visit http://www.indirect.com/www/warren/flag/cartoons.html for some flag-burning cartoons.