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A few thoughts on Flag Day

Today’s the anniversary of one of my favorite cases, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which deals with saluting the flag.

I remember, as a kid, when someone told us it meant you didn’t HAVE to salute. As a rebellious kid, I saw it as another way to push back against authority.

But one day a long time ago, I read it.

It was in 1943, when Justice Jackson penned this opinion recognizing the right to refuse to salute the flag.

Here’s how the opinion ends:

“The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure, but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to Continue reading