Judge strikes down Iowa's flag abuse laws - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Judge strikes down Iowa's flag abuse laws

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -  A federal judge is striking down two Iowa laws that make it a crime to mistreat the American flag.
   U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt ruled Wednesday that the laws are unconstitutional because they criminalize protected free speech.
   One law makes it a misdemeanor to deface, mutilate, or trample on the American flag. The other says it's illegal to show disrespect to the flag "to provoke or encourage another to commit a public offense."
   The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa challenged the laws last year on behalf of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. The church's members are known for protesting outside funerals, often dragging, standing and spitting on flags.
   The lawsuit came after the police chief in Red Oak threatened to enforce the law against members during protests.

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