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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Texas Vs Johnson - 687 words
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Texas vs. JohnsonA very controversial court case in American history was Texas vs. Johnson (1984). In 1984, a man named Gregory Lee Johnson followed a group of anti - Reagan protesters to oppose the American exploitation of third world countries. This act of rebellion resulted in the burning of the American flag. Out of a total of approximately one hundred demonstrators who were involved in this ordeal, Johnson was solely charged with a crime. Johnson was arrested under Texas law, which made the burning of the United States or Texas flags crimes.
Johnson was convicted and sentenced to one year in jail and fined two thousand dollars for his crime in restitution. Texas reasoned that the police were preventing the breach of peace; consider the flag a symbol of national unity. At Johnson's court trial, he was convicted of aiding, abetting and encouraging the burning of the Texan flag. This, in turn, made Johnson guilty under Texas state law. Johnson and his lawyers were dissatisfied with this decision and made an appeal to the Fifth Texas Supreme Judicial District
This appeal, made on May 8, 1985 would be titled as Texas vs. Johnson. The defense argued that Johnson was prosecuted in violation of the first Amendment, clearly states that no law may take away a person's freedom of speech or expression, and of the Bill of Rights and the free speech clause of the Texas Constitution. Johnson argued that in his opinion, flag burning is part of freedom of expression. In Johnson's defense, he stated that "the American Flag was burned as Ronald Reagan was being re-nominated as President and a more powerful statement of symbolic speech, whether you agree with it or not, couldn't have been made at that time..' To the surprise of many people, on April 20, 1988 the Texas court of criminal appeals declared by a vote of 5 - 4 that the original decision was unconstitutional and that Texas violated his first amendment right of freedom of expression.
This case then was put up to the national level and sent to the United States Supreme Court. There was great public attention because of media. Many groups involved themselves in either trying to support that Texas violated Johnson's first amendment right of freedom of expression, or tried to get a new amendment passed to the constitution stopping the burning of the United States' flag. The final decision by the Supreme Court on June 21, 1989 was by a 5 - 4 vote, that the Texas court of criminal appeals violated Johnson's first amendment rights by prosecuting him under its law for burning a flag as a means of a peaceful political demonstration. The Supreme Court upheld this ruling, stating the flag burning was 'expressive conduct' because it was an attempt to 'convey a particularized message.' This ruling invalidated flag protection laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia.The decision of the United States Supreme Court was an unconstitutional one in my opinion.
Johnson burning the flag as a way of expression should still be considered to be a rebellious act against the county's nationalistic beliefs. It seems that if the first amendment can be so loosely interpreted in that such physical activity is an expression of speech, there can and will also be room for interpretation of the first Amendment in other contexts. This case has an intangible element that seems to make those rules inapplicable. The decision affects us today. This case had great long term effects impacting the United States.
This is obvious because the outcome of the Texas vs. Johnson court case later led to the passing of the Flag Protection Act of 1989. This Act, still being exercised today, was made to enforce that no one is permitted to deface or burn an American flag. Those who violate the Flag Protection Act are now prosecuted to the appropriate extent of time assigned by the court; imprisonment for a year or under. The Texas vs. Johnson court case of 1984 was an important case in United States history. It was a leading cause of the Flag Protection Act of 1989 and fought to allow the first Amendment to be open to interpretation.
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