WASHINGTON - Voting for at least the third time since January to amend the United States Constitution, the House of Representatives on June 12 sent a significantly weakened proposed amendment to ban "flag desecration" to the U.S. Senate.

The proposed amendment passed by a margin of 310-to-114, only 20 votes more than the two-thirds necessary to send a proposed constitutional amendment to the states for ratification. But in rallying support for the amendment, its proponents had said they were looking for a very strong House vote to bolster the legislation's chances in the Senate. In 1995, the flag amendment passed with a margin of 22 votes.

At that point, the amendment failed in the Senate by a three-vote margin.

"Although disappointing, today's House vote shows that this movement to amend the Bill of Rights has peaked," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's National Washington Office. "We're hopeful that Senators will recognize that the American public has shown no overwhelming desire to amend the Constitution to address what is, in the end, a nonexistent problem."

While supporters of the flag amendment have touted poll numbers showing that the American public supports outlawing flag desecration, other polls have shown much less support for amending the constitution. In 1995, for example, by 52 percent to 38 percent, Americans rejected such an amendment when they discovered it would be the first in our history to restrict our First Amendment freedoms.

"This battle is far from over," Murphy said. "The ACLU and all other Americans concerned about preserving our nation's most traditional values will do everything we can to defeat this proposed amendment in the United States Senate."

Source: The American Civil Liberties Union On-Line News

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