Congress

Kevin McCarthy isn’t on board with Trump’s call to punish flag burners

In this July 20, 2016, file photo, a law enforcement officer takes Gregory "Joey" Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention. President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that anyone who burns an American flag should face unspecified "consequences," such as jail or a loss of citizenship _ a move that was ruled out by the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago.
In this July 20, 2016, file photo, a law enforcement officer takes Gregory "Joey" Johnson into custody after he started to burn an American flag in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention. President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that anyone who burns an American flag should face unspecified "consequences," such as jail or a loss of citizenship _ a move that was ruled out by the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago. AP

U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, isn’t joining President-elect Donald Trump’s call to punish Americans for flag burning.

Trump made the demand Tuesday morning on Twitter, his preferred mode of communication.

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted.

McCarthy, asked about the matter on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” responded that, while he doesn’t understand flag burning, the Supreme Court has upheld it as protected free speech under the First Amendment.

“We’ll protect our First Amendment,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy suggested, though, that anyone who burns the flag in the Bakersfield area would be putting themselves in a precarious situation.

“In my neck of the woods people don’t burn their flags, they actually honor their flags. I don’t see why someone would want to burn it. We have a First Amendment right. But where I come from you honor the flag. If someone wanted to show their First Amendment right I’d be afraid for their own safety,” he said.

It’s not clear why Trump raised the issue now. But his demand to punish flag burners comes days after Hampshire College in Massachusetts announced that it would not fly any flags for the time being after someone lit the campus’ U.S. flag on fire Nov. 10.

A group attempted to burn an American flag on Prospect Avenue near the security entrance of Cleveland's Quicken Loans arena. Police swarmed the area and made arrests outside the RNC venue.

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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