American Government CP Name: Chapter 3 – The Constitution First

American Government CP
Chapter 3 – The Constitution
First Amendment Rights
You Decide
Directions: Use your book, class notes, opinions to form a ruling. We will then compare
your decision with the decision of the United States Supreme Court.
Texas v. Johnson
Outside the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, a protest of Ronald
Reagan’s policies had been organized, during which a United States flag was burned.
Johnson, the man responsible for the flag burning, was arrested under Texas law, which
made the desecration of the United States or Texas flags crimes. Johnson was convicted
and sentenced to one year in jail and a two thousand dollar fine. Texas reasoned that the
police were preventing the breach of peace that would erupt due to the flag burning, and
preserving the integrity of the flag as a symbol of national unity. Johnson’s conviction was
overturned by the Supreme Court of Texas, which ruled that this mode of self-expression
was protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Directions: Read the First Amendment in the back of your text then answer the
following questions.
1. What part of the First Amendment is relevant to this case?
2. Was Johnson in violation of the First Amendment? Why or why not?
3. Were the Texas police preventing a major riot by stopping the flag burning and
arresting Johnson?
4. Would you uphold or overturn the ruling of the Supreme Court of Texas? Support your
5. Ask a parent or guardian the following question: Why does burning of the flag seem to
provoke such an emotional reaction in so many people? Could flag burning laws be justified
as an attempt to prevent breaches of the peace? Why or why not?