Missouri flag desecration law declared unconstitutional

Mar 22, 2012

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Missouri’s law banning flag desecration is unconstitutional.

Cape Girardeau police arrested Frank Snider and jailed him for eight hours, despite a U-S Supreme Court decision in 1989 that ruled flag desecration is a protected form of expression. He then sued the city, prosecuting attorney, and the arresting officer.

Judge Carol Jackson ruled the Supreme Court’s decision has precedence over the Missouri law. She added a reasonably-trained police officer would know freedom of expression is protected by law.

Attorney Al Spradling represented the defendants. He says he’s not surprised by the judge’s ruling … and expects it will change law enforcement training.

“So I think there will probably ultimately be some more training for police officers in the initial phases for First Amendment protection as opposed to just their search and seizure arrests, etc,” Spradling said. 

A spokesperson from the Attorney General’s office says they are still reviewing the case.