FIREPROOFING OLD GLORY

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With the Fourth of July at hand, House members overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from burning and other forms of desecration. "As tombstones are not for toppling, as churches and synagogues and places of worship are not for vandalizing, flags are not for burning," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) The 312-120 vote -- which included support from 219 Republicans and 93 Democrats -- easily surpassed the two-thirds majority needed to alter the Constitution. TIME's Laurence Barrett says the bill has a "very good chance" of clearing the required 38 state legislatures, "not because many elected officials enthusiastically support it, but rather because it's the politically easy thing to do." It would first have to clear a more "sober and cautious" Senate, he adds, where 67 votes would be harder to win.