Texas v. Johnson (1989)

In this freedom of speech case, the Court held that burning an American flag as as political protest is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. The Court declared, “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable… We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.”

The case touched on constitutional principles including natural rights and political rights, and civic values including courage, moderation, responsibility, and individual efficacy.