House OKs ban on flag burning
WASHINGTON - The House yesterday approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure rejected twice by the Senate in the past decade but expected to get a closer vote this year.
By a 286-130 vote, House members approved the amendment after a debate over whether such a ban would run afoul of the Constitution's free-speech protections.
Approval by two-thirds of the lawmakers present was required to send the bill to the Senate. An Associated Press count shows 34 senators, one more than needed to defeat it if all 100 senators vote, publicly oppose it or voted against it in the past.
If the amendment is approved in the Senate, it would move to the states for ratification. At that point, 37 states would have to approve it within seven years for it to become law.
Supporters said the measure reflected patriotism that deepened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and they accused detractors of being out of touch with public sentiment.