President-elect #Donald Trump once thought that flag burning was an expression of free speech and not a crime. In a nearly two year old interview with #David Letterman on January 8, 2015, the real estate mogul turned politician stated that he agreed with both Letterman and Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia that flag burning, although contemptible to many people, is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. At the time, Trump and Letterman were discussing the terrorist attack that had just taken place in Paris on a satirical newspaper.
Letterman mentioned the fact that in the United States, citizens who are angry at the government often protest and burn the flag and that in so doing, the protestors are exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Trump supported flag burning as free expression
Trump responded to Letterman's analogy, stating that he knew what Letterman was talking about and that he agreed "100%." Trump also told Letterman that what he was saying was "terrific." Letterman went on to discuss Scalia's stance on flag burning, which was that if he were "king" he would make it illegal, but that since we live in the United States and are subject to the Constitution, that we must honor the rights of flag burners to engage in such free expression. Scalia's views on flag burning are of particular interest in this case because Trump often quotes Scalia and holds him as someone to be revered.
Trump's turn around
Now that Trump has been elected President, he appears to have done a complete turn around in his position on flag burning. Now Trump says that flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship or jailed for up to one year.
Trump no longer mentions freedom of expression, the First Amendment or Scalia when discussing flag burning. He now limits his discussion of flag burning to the penalties that he believes should result from such actions. Somehow the Constitution and all of the freedoms that it entails have taken a back seat to loss of citizenship and jail time for the flag burners in Trump's mind.
The reality of the matter
In reality, a citizen could not lose his or her citizenship for flag burning. As it is now, the Supreme Court has upheld the rights of citizens to burn flags as a means of free expression, and so there cannot be any loss of citizenship, loss of privileges or jail time for flag burning. This matter was decided by the Supreme Court in the Texas vs. Johnson ruling in 1989, which held that flag burning was protected by the First Amendment. The bottom line is that before Trump can even think of imposing penalties on a flag burner, he literally is going to have to get the Supreme Court to overturn its earlier decision, and that is one piece of fancy footwork that few if any presidents have ever been able to do successfully..
Trump's gay marriage flip-flop
Trump has flip-flopped his position on gay marriage as well. During the campaign, he adamantly opposed it. Now, however, he is saying that the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter and that there is nothing that can be done about it. The high court recently ruled that gay marriage is Constitutional and legal in all 50 states.
'The Donald's' other problems
Trump is facing other problems as well. Maryland Senator #Ben Cardin, (D), has promised to introduce a resolution to block Trump from being inaugurated President on January 20, 2017. Cardin's rationale is that the Constitution prohibits a President from profiting from domestic or foreign business enterprises while holding office. Trump has refused to divest himself of his business interests; although it appears that he may be changing that position as well.