You Will Have To Take My Word On It

The New York­er has post­ed a pro­file of Supreme Court Jus­tice John Paul Stevens. It is a bit lengthy and I con­fess I did not read the whole thing even though I found it interesting.

A lit­tle more than halfway through, there are a cou­ple of para­graphs on the 1989 flag burn­ing case. Stevens “dis­sent­ed from the deci­sion that pro­tect­ed the right to burn the Amer­i­can flag as a form of protest.”

I remem­ber that con­tro­ver­sy. I know I told a few peo­ple that it did not make any sense. If some­one did not want the flag to be burned, then the best thing to do would be to make it legal to burn the flag. Mak­ing flag burn­ing against the law would assure that there would be more flag burnings.

The court said flag burn­ing was pro­tect­ed speech and could not be crim­i­nal­ized. The result:

The fun­ny thing about that case is, the only con­se­quence of it — nobody burns flags any­more,” Stevens told me. “It was an impor­tant sym­bol­ic form of protest at the time. But nobody does it any­more. As long as it’s legal, it’s not a big deal. You just don’t have flag burning.”

Exact­ly as I pre­dict­ed. But you will just have to take my word on it.
An inter­est­ing side note here is that Stevens tells The New York­er that he will retire in the next three years.
Note: I copied and past­ed from The New York­er’s post twice. Both times the fol­low­ing came along with the copied text. So I include it here at the end:

2 thoughts on “You Will Have To Take My Word On It”

  1. I don’t believe you.


    Did I ever tell you about the fact that I was telling every­one I knew, by the begin­ning of year two of ray­gun’s reign… That he had alzheimers ?

    I was.

    No one believed me then. (Or they made it plain they just did­n’t want to hear about it.)

    No one remem­bers me telling them, at that time, now.

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