4. It is illegal to burn the American flag.
It was illegal until 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in Texas v. Johnson that burning the flag is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.
The case involved Gregory Lee Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, who had burned the flag during a protest at the 1984 Republican National Convention. He was convicted of violating Texas’s flag-desecration law, fined $2,000 and sentenced to a year in jail. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling that Johnson was exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
The Supreme Court’s decision invalidated a 1968 national flag-desecration law, as well as similar laws in 48 states (all except Wyoming and Alaska). In response, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, but that law was also challenged and wound up in the Supreme Court. The court in 1990 essentially affirmed its earlier ruling, stating that any law banning flag burning violated free speech.
Those decisions led to a national movement to amend the Constitution to make flag desecration illegal. The leading voice in that effort has been the Citizens Flag Alliance, which was founded in 1994 by the American Legion. Proposed amendments have come up regularly in the House and Senate since then but have yet to receive sufficient support.