Court overturns American flag desecration law

May 30, 2014

A federal appeals court in St. Louis has overturned a Missouri law that makes it a crime to burn or otherwise desecrate the American flag. 

Frank Snider III of Cape Girardeau sued the southeast Missouri city after his 2009 arrest for cutting up a U.S. flag on the sidewalk outside his home, throwing it in the street and trying to set it on fire. Snider was jailed for eight hours, but prosecutors dismissed the charges after learning of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed a similar law in Texas unconstitutional. The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 lower court ruling Friday that the law violated the First Amendment's right to free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri represented the Cape Girardeau man.