President-elect Trump posted one outlandish tweet after another all the way to the White House. But his latest tweet on flag-burning topped most of the others.
On Nov. 29, Trump tweeted:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
The tone and text of the post read like something that a ruler from a bygone era without the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution would say. Most alarming is the sweeping and ominous part about “consequences.” Fortunately, a chorus of critics checked Trump.
The very next day, both The New York Times and The Washington Post editorialized against Trump’s tweet. The headline in the Post’s View summed up the problem, “In one tweet, Trump trashes two constitutional amendments.”
In 140 characters, the next president knocked the First and 14th Amendments. The Supreme Court ruled almost three decades ago that burning a flag is protected speech under the First Amendment. Ironically, Trump’s model of the ideal Supreme Court Justice, the late Antonin Scalia, joined the majority decision in the 1989 case, Texas v. Johnson.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) chimed in right after the tweet to educate the public and president-elect about the First Amendment protection. Both members of Congress felt compelled to voice their support for this protected speech. McCarthy tried to shut down the debate by stating the unlikelihood of congressional action.