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U.S. Senate Judiciary Panel Approves Hatch's Flag-protection Amendment

The United States Senate's judiciary committee has approved Sen. Orrin Hatch's resolution to restore the U.S. Congress's power to protect the American flag.

The constitutional amendment would allow the American people - through elected representatives - to decide the proper way to protect the flag.

The decision has been denied to Americans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 48 state flag protection statutes with a 5 to 4 vote in 1989's Texas vs. Johnson case.

"This is a great victory for patriotism in this country," commented Hatch. "Those who back this amendment never believed the First Amendment protects desecration of the flag."

"Along with the four dissenting justices in the case, we believe the court got it wrong on this one," continued the Utah senator. "We want to give the power back to the people to decide how they will treat the American flag."

The judiciary committee reported the resolution by a bipartisan 11 to 7 vote, according to the Utah senator.

Hatch has gathered a bipartisan array of 59 cosponsors for the resolution.

In addition, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist expressed support for the amendment at a press conference on June 14, Flag Day. Frist promised to dedicate floor time to the bill by the end of June.

The proposed bill reads:

"The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Because the federal legislation would amend the U.S. Constitution, 67 senators will need to vote in favor of the bill.

Comparable legislation has already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, indicated Hatch.

Therefore, should the bill pass the U.S. Senate, state legislatures across the country would have the opportunity to ratify the amendment.

If three-fourths or 38 of the state legislatures approve the bill, the amendment will be added to the U.S. Constitution.

"We should pass this for the American people," stressed the Utah senator. "Should we send this to the states for ratification, we would have the greatest debate that most citizens will ever participate in."

"I think it is wholly appropriate that we send this amendment to the states and let the people decide," concluded Hatch.

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