Rhode Island Senators Vote Against Flag Burning Ban

Both Senator Reed and Senator Chafee voted against the Flag Burning Amendment (story), which failed by one vote. Senator Chafee, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Robert Bennett of Utah were the only Republicans who voted against the Amendment.
UPDATE: Andrew emailed me to say it was worth noting that Langevin voted for the House version and Kennedy against.

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Greg
Greg
14 years ago

Yeah, we need to re-elect Chafee why again?

Ed Burke
Ed Burke
14 years ago

Errrm…first of all, if you read the text of the amendment, it doesn’t prohibit flag burning, it merely opens up that possibility to future Congresses…also, would the majority of your state vote to amend the Constitution in such a way? If no, was Chafee really out of line with the majority of Rhode Islanders??
And oh yeah…last time I checked, Bob Bennett was a Republican, and he certainly voted against it as well…

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

Ed, I’m aware I missed Bennett in my quick scan of “yeas” and that info has been added. Thanks. Also, it’s true that the Amendment itself doesn’t prohibit flag burning, but that it does allow Congress to prohibit flag burning if it so decides. What that means is that Congress can make it illegal to burn the flag and not be contra-constitutional in doing so. It also means that if at some future point the majority of Congress thinks it should be ok to burn the flag, they can either revoke any existing law or write one that says its OK. The idea was to take away the unconstitutional option from the courts. Finally, the fact that Congress has supported the ability to ban flag burning with such numbers indicates to me that an actual law wouldn’t be far behind once/if an Amendment was ratified. “would the majority of your state vote to amend the Constitution in such a way? If no, was Chafee really out of line with the majority of Rhode Islanders??” Finally, this poll released on June 3, 2006 seems to counter the above. The survey queried 501 adults 18 years of age and older living in private households in the state of Rhode Island and was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ. When asked about the importance of making desecration of the U.S. flag illegal, 80 percent felt it was somewhat to extremely important to make it against the law.The survey also revealed that 78 percent thought that members of the House and Senate who may personally oppose the amendment should vote in favor of it anyway so that “we the people” can decide the flag issue. Additionally, the survey revealed that 66 percent of those questioned would not vote for someone who is… Read more »

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

Out of curiosity, think hardcore conservatives will turn on McConnell over this vote?
We’ve gotten so used to WMDs (Weapons of Mass Distraction) flying around Capitol Hill lately that this won’t have a big impact on Chafee either way.

Andrew
14 years ago

Rhody,
McConnell is safe on this vote because he is a true 1st-amendment hawk and one of the most outspoken opponents of campaign finance reform. McConnell believes that the constitution protects both your right to burn the flag and your right to express for support the political candidate of your choice. Most Democrats (and Senator Chafee, unfortunately) believe that flag burning is absolutely protected by the Constitution, but that campaign speech is not.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

“Yeah, we need to re-elect Chafee why again?”
1. Because he can win.
2. Because Laffey is a snake who abandoned Cranston without doing a damn thing for us. Teacher, police and fire payrolls BIGGER than ever. NOT ONE DIME being paid in health care co-pay by any of the above unions. NOTHING done to put a single city employee (even non-union) into a 401K style pension. Firemen still paid for 911 (not in New York but here!). I think I speak for the majority of the 8000 who came out to vote for “watch what I say not what I do” in the last primary and say I will vote for Chafee, not that I have any use for him.
Hey, anybody noticed the scarcity of Laffey signs in Cranston compared to 2006? The gig is up for this three-card monte charlatan. Speaking for Cranston I say:
NOBODY’S LAFFEYNG NOW!

Nick Foley
Nick Foley
14 years ago

Andrew,
Explain to me, why does Senator Chafee not believe campaign “speech” is protected by the Constitution?
I am currently enrolled in law school and one of my interests is first-amendment law. I’d like to hear what you have to say because the issue is a complicated one and I’m pretty sure I can refute whatever you contend.
Nick

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

So you’re voting for Chafee just to try and keep the (R) in the seat? Why not just run a chimp that can use sign language then? It’s time to stand for more than just the (R). The republican party is lost in the mire of the moderates and it’s time to purge them out. I’m no fan of Laffey, either since I’m from Cranston, but i’ll do anything to get rid of Chafee just because he’s bad for the PARTY.

Adam Smith
Adam Smith
14 years ago

Andrew, Since Nick Foley is MIA I take it on myself to categoricaly reject your argument. Apologies for any typoes–my mind is quicker than my fingers. Unlike the others who post on this board (i.e., Stretch, Fred Sanford, Will, BootyHunter, Bobby Olivieria) who have remarkably quick fingers and astoundingly slow minds. Times have changed since the Founders penned and the individual states ratified the Constitution. Today’s workers manipulate information, not iron or wood, for the most part. As language and information help form the bedrock of our nation, the government that the Constitution creates moderates a vast number of activities that take place through the medium of “speech.” Our 21st century information-based workplace, just as the older industrial workplace, requires the enactment of community standards attempting to ensure, for example, a minimizaion of anti-competitive restraints, the accuracy of commercial information, the absence of discrimination, the protection of health, the environment, the consumer, and so forth. Laws that reflect our community standards obviously effect–or abridge–speech. For example, pharmaceutical companies cannot lie about health risks associated with their products, employers cannot state that they prefer to employ certain ethnicities over others, etc. These are good laws, most would agree, but they are laws that restrict certain types of speech. If libertarian first-amendment standards were to apply across the board, they would prevent a democratically elected government from creating necessary regulation. On the other hand, if first amendment standards were weakened too severely, the Constitution would not offer sufficient protection for the free exchange of ideas necessary to maintain the health of our democracy. It is obvious that we must strike a balance in limiting speech. This balance must allow the free exchange of ideas necessary in a Democracy, but allow limitations that prevent abuses of speech and hamstring our abillity to govern… Read more »

Nick Foley
Nick Foley
14 years ago

Adam Smith is a little rude but I think I agree with him. Soneone said he is a Professor of Transgender Studies? I don’t understand that at all. Andrew, thanks for outlining your points.

Nick Foley
Nick Foley
14 years ago

Adam Smith is a little rude but I think I agree with him. Soneone said he is a Professor of Transgender Studies? I don’t understand that at all. Andrew, thanks for outlining your points.

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

Two things:
Adam Smith said:

Campaign finance laws seek…to equalize the influence of Amwerican citizens, ensuring that the well-to-do’s voices are not amplified at the expense of the unwealthy.

The provision you cite in McCain Fenigold is perfectly in line with this goal. If the provision was not there, a billionaire (who happened to own a local business whose welfare depended on the electgion of Candidate X) could call Candidate X, ask what information Candidate X needed disseminated, and pay a million dollars (for example) to have this information sent out. Such behavior completely diminshes the integrity of a participatory self-government, as it makes politicans indebted to their wealthiest donors and limits an open political dialogue.

That’s in contrast to, say, George Soros funding the 527s, right? My point: it’s not a perfect law and doesn’t come close to implementing the ideal you spoke of.
Don’t forget, one of the key points made by Bailyn in Ideological Originswas that the American colonists (and the Radical English Whigs before them) believed that there was a natural tension between Liberty and government’s irresponsible use of Power. The natural tendency of Power was to reduce Liberty and it was up to citizens to make sure that didn’t occur.
Thus, to follow that line, it would seem that they’d think that the idea of using the government to regulate such matters as campaign finance–and thus free speech–in pursuit of some sort of “ideal” isn’t, well, ideal. The wealthy always find a way, Adam!

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

The second thing was to ask Nick to stop double-posting! (Just kidding).

klaus
klaus
14 years ago

First, I thought conservatives were against the gov’t intruding into one’s private life.
Second, wasn’t the freedom of expression the ostensible reason conservatives were opposed to McCain-Feingold? I recall Fred Thompson (R-TN, now on Law & Order) intoning that “a citizen” should be able to go down to his local TV station and buy an ad if he wanted to. (He obviously hangs out with different citizens than I do). Of course, the real reason conservatives opposed it was that they have a bigger money pipeline than the Dems, and they wanted to keep it that way.
So how is this different? Does it depend on the speech being expressed?
Third, can you really desecrate a flag? Was it blessed by the Pope? Think about it: de-sacrate. As in ‘sacred.’ Isn’t the flag a political–not religious– symbol?
Fourth: what’s really important, the physical flag or what it stands for: the freedom of expression? Seems that you are confusing the symbol with the meaning. I believe that is called “idolatry.”
Admit it: this is a cheap political stunt.
And no one had better question my patriotism. I understand what the values of this country really are.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Adam, 1. See Marc’s comment about George Soros. I would add a tweak to your hypothetical billionaire’s running off a million dollars worth of campaign literature. Suppose that billionaire happens to own a newspaper; what then? What constitutes a newspaper? Who counts as a reporter? I suppose we could pass laws designed to ensure equal time, but the problem with such micromanaged schemes is as Marc suggests: the powerful are able to find routes around them (indeed, one suspects the loopholes are built into the regulation), while the average person is made even more powerless. 2. The Constitutional protection of flag burning provides a case in point for one of those loopholes: the concept was enshrined by an unelected judiciary — not the people’s elected representatives. In that context, I find this comment of yours curious: An amendment against [flag burning] limits our abililty to express our dissatisfaction with the government and that is just a terrible precedent to set. Whom or what does the flag represent? I would argue — given our historical ideals — that the flag actually represents America’s peculiar form of nationalism: pluralistic cooperation. Must the participants in such a necessarily fragile construct accept the rejection of its unifying symbol? Surely “community standards” can include a statement that a violent rejection of our one bit of common symbolism will not be tolerated (especially if you believe it to be within the range of acceptable restrictions of speech to bar employers from expressing a preference for employees who represent a particular culture). This is pure educated speculation on my part, but I would suggest that, rather than tracking the donations to political candidates, people are more likely to “become less willing to participate in the political process” if they feel that they are absolutely barred from achieving… Read more »

Fred Sanford
Fred Sanford
14 years ago

It seems that the latest Chafee blogger “mike” likes to write in caps….reading him keeps me laffeying. The Chafee camp is really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this latest edition.
Lets see, the Cranston teacher, police and firefighter pensions are set by state statute so you would have to change the statute to have 401k plans.
In Sept. 2004 when Laffey won with over 8000 votes in the primary, Laffey had raised taxes to avoid bankruptcy. Since then, the the city is not in junk bond status any longer, Laffey froze taxes in 2005, won his case against the crossing guards, got 20% co-share from municipal workers, and now cut taxes in 2006. It would be logical to presume that Laffey is stronger in Cranston than he was in 2004.
“Mike” may have voted in the Sept 2004 primary but it was probably for Garry Reilly…now this year he and his friends have all these wonderful Democratic primaries at the local level in Cranston to chose from as well.
Keep hope alive keeep Chafee guys.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

“Chafee blogger” I am not in any way a “Chafee blogger”. I have no or little use for him. “Lets see, the Cranston teacher, police and firefighter pensions are set by state statute so you would have to change the statute to have 401k plans.” He could have made it an issue, thus putting it out there for discussion. Eventually this is the ONLY answer to the gold plated pensions of our “royalty” in RI-the public employess. “got 20% co-share from municipal workers” Come on! This is the kind of Laughey doubltalk that has those in Cranston saying NOBODY’S LAFFEYNG NOW. The co-pay was imposed on the handfull of non-union municipal workers. 90% of the workers are members of our “royal” municipal unions and after 4 years of Laughey they are paying exactly ZERO for their gold-plated health coverage. “It would be logical to presume that Laffey is stronger in Cranston than he was in 2004” Please, look at the pathetic number of signs for Laffey compared to last time. “Mike” may have voted in the Sept 2004 primary but it was probably for Garry Reilly” I personally got about 2 dozen people who never voted in a Rep. primary out to vote for Laughey in 2004. He stabbed us in the back. At a minimum he could have stayed in office 4 more years and stopped the unions and not illegally giving city property to Guatamala to serve himself. Then he could have run for governor in 2010 on a platform of 401K pensions for ALL state and municipal workers-the only hope for Rhode Island to avoid looming default. Those of us in Cranston who have seen “what he does, not what he says” would rather go in November with a principled sleaze who has a chance to win… Read more »

Grady Shipley
Grady Shipley
14 years ago

As I understand it the only countries in the world who make it illegal to burn their countries’ flag are Iran and North Korea. I am sure there must be others, but is that really a club the US wants to join? I realize this is a simplistic point, but I think it is worthwhile to bring it up.

Warbucks
Warbucks
14 years ago

Mike/Chafee blogger:
Laffey did try to make changes that would allow all municipalities to save money. It was the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2005. Mayor Laffey and his admininstration got together with other municipalities and put together legislation that would remove or change laws that render local communities defenseless against rising costs. That bill died in committee thanks to our Democrat legislature. Laffey held town meetings all around the state trying to drum up support for it. He was talking about it on every radio program, including his own.
Regarding signs. I think that short bus you’re riding on has strayed off into another state. No one has more signs up in RI than Laffey, they’re everywhere! Chafee has none!
Get your tongue off the glass and ask Mr. Bus Driver to take you back to RI.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

“Laffey did try to make changes that would allow all municipalities to save money. It was the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2005. Mayor Laffey and his admininstration got together with other municipalities and put together legislation that would remove or change laws that render local communities defenseless against rising costs. That bill died in committee thanks to our Democrat legislature. Laffey held town meetings all around the state trying to drum up support for it. He was talking about it on every radio program, including his own.”
Not a peep from him about the main changes which need to be made:
1. 401K type plans for all state/municipal workers- like the real world.
2. Making our union royalty work until 62- like the real world.
3. Ending the phony disability claims which have strangled the system. Let them get SSDI and buy private disability policies-like the real world.
Under Laughey taxes here are the highest they have ever been; spending is the highest it has ever been; wages to our union royalty are the highest they have ever been. City property sent illegally to Guatamala though for his own selfish purposes. In short:
NOBODY’S LAFFEYNG NOW.

Will
Will
14 years ago

Would that be Mike Reilly, Mike Garabedian, or Mike Jackvony? 🙂
Might I remind you that Laffey has had a 7 to 2 Democratic City Council to work with? Despite what you seem to imply, Laffey is not a dictator, and can not make law by fiat. I’m still amazed he’s gotten as much done as he has, considering what he had to work with over there. Do you think those union bought and paid for hacks would even for one moment entertain doing something that would put them on the outs with their union bosses?
Laffey has turned his city around like probably no other leader has done in this country, in so short a span of time. Laffey took the lead, and put the city back on a very sound fiscal footing. He did what he said he would do, which was to save the city he grew up in. He stated from the beginning, that he wasn’t looking to stay there for a long time, just long enough to fix what the democrats had broken. Serving two terms is enough, and sets a good example that other municipal leaders should follow.
A Republican friend from out of state, after hearing Laffey speak at an event, asked me “Why’s Laffey running for US Senate? He should be running for President!”

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