SEATTLE -- Two demonstrators who burned American flags to protest a federal anti-desecration law said the Supreme Court's decision Monday to overturn the statute was unsurprising and vowed to fight expected efforts to give the flag constitutional protection.
'I wasn't surprised,' said Jennifer Campbell, 23, one of four Seattle defendants arrested for challenging the new law last October by burning flags outside a post office.
Campbell, who was present when the case was argued before the high court last month, vowed to lobby and demonstrate against anticipated attempts by President Bush and Congress to pass a constitutional amendment or a new anti-flag-burning law.
'People are using the flag as a blindfold,' Campbell said. 'There are bigger, more important things to protect. Freedom is more important than the flag.'
Campbell predicted the American people 'won't stand for Congress passing an amendment. They will not let it pass.'
Carlos Garza, another of the four Seattle defendants, said: 'I hope we get more support from the people, because the battle has just begun. We have to fight against a constitutional amendment.'
The 5-4 split among the Supreme Court justices Monday was the same as in a June 21, 1989, decision reversing, on First Amendment grounds, a flag-desecration conviction under a Texas law.
That case provoked President Bush and conservative members of Congress to launch an unsuccessful attempt to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the flag from desecration. Congress instead eventually passed the anti-flag-burning law.
Within minutes of its taking affect on Oct. 28, nearly 500 demonstrators swarmed Seattle's Capitol Hill Post Office. Several American flags were torched in view of police and FBI undercover agents. Similar demonstrations occurred in Washington, D.C., and other cities.
A federal judge in Seattle in February threw out the charges against the fur Seattle defendants, saying the freedom of expression guaranteed under the First Amendment took precedence over penalizing an odious political act.
That decision was among those appealed to the Supreme Court in the case decided Monday.