Donald Trump, who once filed a $25 million lawsuit against the town of Palm Beach over his right to fly a large American flag outside his Mar-a-Lago Club, weighed in this morning on Twitter against burning Old Glory.
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted at 6:55 a.m.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that burning the flag is expression protected by the First Amendment. The late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia — often praised by Trump — was part of the majority in a 5-4 ruling in 1989 that struck down a Texas law against flag burning. A year later, Scalia was part of a Supreme Court majority striking down a federal ban on burning the flag.
“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,” Scalia said in 2015. “But I am not king.”
Palm Beach levied $120,000 in fines against Trump in 2006 for flying a 375-square-foot flag on an 80-foot pole outside Mar-a-Lago in violation of town rules that limited flags to 24 square feet on 42-foot poles. Trump filed a $25 million lawsuit saying the town was violating his constitutional rights. He dropped the suit in a 2007 settlement that waived the fines and allowed Trump to fly the flag on a slightly shorter pole and called for him to donate $100,000 to veterans groups.