President-elect Donald Trump isn’t the first person to propose punishment for burning the American flag. Consider the Flag Protection Act of 2005, co-sponsored by then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.).
“Any person who shall intentionally threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons by burning, or causing to be burned, a flag of the United States shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both,” read the bill, which Clinton co-sponsored the day it was filed by Sen. Robert Bennett (R.-Utah), along with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), Sen. Thomas Carper (D.-Del.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D.-Ark.).
The bill further included a provision with an additional charge for burning a flag as part of a demonstration:
Any person who destroys or damages a flag of the United States with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, and under circumstances in which the person knows that it is reasonably likely to produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
Trump posted his thoughts Tuesday:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
George Takei, who starred in the TV show “Star Trek” captured the mood of the Left:
I pledged allegiance to the flag every morning inside an internment camp. I would never burn one, but I'd die to protect the right to do so. https://t.co/O5ecSQkyC2
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 29, 2016
But, back in 2005 the New York Times accused Clinton of going into “pandering mode.”
“It’s hard to see this as anything but pandering — there certainly isn’t any urgent need to resolve the issue,” the Times opined. “Flag-burning hasn’t been in fashion since college students used slide rules in math class and went to pay phones at the student union to call their friends. Even then, it was a rarity that certainly never put the nation’s security in peril.”