Update 5:06 p.m. This editorial from BYU Newsnet has a great take as well. I’ve found it fascinating over the last couple of weeks to watch the United States Senate debate and then vote on two Constitutional amendments designed to protect two different things: 1. The family; 2. The flag. It was even more interesting to me to read today from the Deseret News how one of Utah’s senators, Senator Bob Bennett, may have been the saving vote in derailing the flag burning amendment. Utah’s delegation split their votes on the flag burning amendment:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Bennett stands by his vote against a constitutional amendment aimed at banning desecration of the U.S. flag.
The amendment’s 66-34 vote Tuesday in the Senate was one vote short of the 67 needed to pass a change to the Constitution.
Bennett, R-Utah, was one of three Republicans who voted against the amendment, a position that was opposite of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who strongly supports the amendment.
Hatch spoke with Bennett Tuesday but did not expect him to change his vote. Bennett said Hatch has been “gracious” with his respect toward Bennett’s stance.
While 10 states had split votes between their two senators, only Utah and Kentucky had two Republican senators who split votes.
Bennett acknowledged that some, including some Utahns, were likely disapointed by his vote on the flag amendment. I suspect that most in Utah supported the flag burning amendment; yet, the senator has taken a position that a constitutional amendment is simply unecessary:
“There is no question that there are some Utahns that are disappointed,” Bennett said. “But if I had changed my vote, I think I would get a lot more angry e-mails and phone calls than the ones that are coming in now.”
He said when ads run telling people to call his office and urge him to vote in favor of the amendment, he said instead people call and tell him to “stick by your guns.”
Bennett said whenever this issues comes up, veterans groups come to talk to him about it and after discussing it, they walk away understanding his point of view.
Bennett is against flag burning but does not want to amend the Constitution over it. He believes the flag can be protected by passing a bill that the Supreme Court could not find unconstitutional.
The Senate also rejected a proposal Tuesday, 36-64, that included Bennett’s own bill designed to protect the flag. Hatch voted against it while Bennett voted for it.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., voted in favor Bennett’s bill but also in favor of the constitutional amendment. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., voted against both items.
“In the end, you have to do what you think is the right thing to do,” Bennett said. “I’m sent here to go through the issues and to make a decision. If the public doesn’t like that decision, they can always change me.”
I certainly don’t understand how Orrin Hatch, who introduced the flag burning amendment would vote against Bennett’s proposal, and vote only for his own. They both aimed to protect the flag. Personally I opposed the flag burning amendment. I think for the most part flag burning is not one of the more critical issues facing America today. We just don’t have a rash of flag burning instances. I also think that the burning of a flag (however otherwise distasteful) is the utmost type of expressive activity protected by the First Amendment.
What I also don’t understand is how the flag burning amendment aimed at eroding the First Amendment’s protection, gained enough support amongst the United States Senate to fall just one vote short of passing. Earlier in the same month, this same Senate came no where close to passing the proposed Constitutional amendment supporting marriage between a man and a woman.
It seems that a vocal minority of America is at war with the traditional family. This to me is a much greater danger to society, present and future, than is an occasional flag burning. Indeed, most flag burnings appear to regularly take place in country like Iraq and Iran. But, right here at home, there are movements actively seeking the deconstruction of the traditional family, the center piece and foundation of all society. Yet, the Senate’s interest level in that amendment was much less.
As recently as about a year ago, I was not in favor of a Constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. I’m not sure it is still the best vehicle; however, I sided with the “Brethren” on support of that amendment because of the vicious assault on the family and marriage raging in this country.
In any event, I found the voting results of these two amendments fascinating, particularly in the relative weight and seriousness of the institutions each was designed to protect. The Senate is poised to protect the flag; but, isn’t the least bit interested in affording the same type of protection to marriage and family. The battle rages on.