Flag Desecration Is Legal

While patriots of left and right debate the question of who owns the American flag, the law has the ticklish task of providing workable answers. Take the case of Stephen Haugh, 23, a Pennsylvania State University student who joined a campus antiwar demonstration on July 4, 1967. Haugh brandished an American flag emblazoned with the slogans "Make Love Not War" and "The New American Revolutionaries." He was convicted of violating a 1939 state law that makes it a misdemeanor to write "any word" on the flag or "publicly cast contempt" upon it.

Haugh appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the ground...

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