Texas v. Johnson

Which right does the Constitution weigh more heavily: the sanctity of the American flag as a symbol of national unity, or the right to burn the flag in protest? The 1989 Supreme Court case of Texas v. Johnson explores a state's right to outlaw flag burning in a lesson that prompts learners to debate and discuss each side.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Use as a mock trial activity when discussing the First Amendment
  • Encourage learners to research current examples of cases concerning flag burning, as well as the legal history of flag burning in their own state
  • Use discussion questions as the basis for an argument essay
  • Conduct a full Oxford style debate on the issue with one side of the class defending the right to burn the flag, and the other class arguing against it
Classroom Considerations
  • Links within the resource do not work, but you can find all necessary materials in the packet as well as attached
  • Resource cites a 1989 case; include additional materials to keep the discussion current
  • Be sure that class members can discuss controversial topics in a mature way
  • Provides thought-provoking questions and talking points
  • Topic is interesting and relevant for learners
  • None