Free Speech and Flag Burning

Lesson Duration

Author:  Office of the U.S. Courts – Educational Resources

In Texas v. Johnson the Court decided that flag burning is symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.  If you were an Associate Justice serving on the Supreme Court, what legal arguments would you take into account in deciding Texas v. Johnson? What emotional arguments would you need to be aware of and set aside? Can you think of other examples of symbolic political speech that might be offensive to some but that would be protected by the First Amendment? To stimulate your thinking, develop several hypothetical situations and identify what differentiates them from each other and from Texas v. Johnson.


  • Students will learn about Symbolic Speech and the First Amendment.
  • Students will learn about the case of Texas v. Johnson.
  • Students will learn about the appellate court process.



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