The court first found that Johnson's actions were protected under the free speech clause under the First Amendment. The court also found that since the action was not violent in nature and did not create a disturbance that it was not criminally sanctioned flag desecration. The case then went the U.S. Supreme Court to be argued on March 21, 1989.
The Supreme Court had to find if Johnson's conviction of burning of the flag and breaking a Texas law was consistent with the First Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the court found that it was not consistent with the First Amendment and that Johnson's conviction under Texas law was unconstitutional. Justice Brennan delivered the opinion of the court. In order to convict Johnson, the state asserted two interests: preserving the flag as a symbol of national unity and preventing the breaches of the peace.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals first found that Johnson alone was the one that was convicted and that his actions were symbolic in nature and under the circumstances of the event that it was held at, the Democratic National Convention. "Given the context of an organized demonstration, speeches, slogans, and the distribution of literature, anyone who observed appellant's act would have understood the message that appellant intended to convey. The act for which appellant was convicted was clearly 'speech' contemplated by the First Amendment." The court also stated that, "Recognizing that the right to differ is the... [continues]
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(2005, 10). Texas V Johnson. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2005, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Texas-v-Johnson-66629.html
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