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Supreme Court Turns Back Texas’ Flag-Burning Ban With AM-Scotus Rdp, Bjt

October 13, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Texas prosecutor’s bold attempt to protect the American flag from being burned was deflected by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The court, without comment or any recorded dissenting vote, refused to reconsider its recent rulings that extended free-speech protections to those who burn or deface the American flag.

The justices turned down a bid by Midland County Attorney Mark Dettman to revive a Texas ban on flag-burning. The state law was enacted shortly after the court invalidated an earlier version in 1989.

The high court extended constitutional protection to flag-burning by 5-4 margins in 1989 and 1990. The second decision struck down a law passed by Congress after the earlier ruling on the Texas law sparked a firestorm of criticism.

Since the two rulings, two justices who voted in the majority in both cases - William J. Brennan and Thurgood Marshall - have retired and been replaced by Justices David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas.

The new Texas law made it a crime to damage, deface, mutilate or burn the American flag or Texas state flag.

Robert Lynn Jimenez was charged in Midland with violating the law in February 1990 when arrested for possessing two U.S. flags and two Texas flags with obscenities and Satanic symbols written on them.

A trial judge and a state appeals court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the Midland County prosecutor’s appeal.