Judge: Iowa's flag laws unconstitutional, desecration no longer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Judge: Iowa's flag laws unconstitutional, desecration no longer a crime

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A federal judge struck down Iowa's law that makes it a crime to desecrate the flag, saying it's unconstitutional.

This comes after a lawsuit by members of Westboro Baptist Church following protests at military funerals in Des Moines and Council Bluffs.

Members claim police threatened to arrest them if they desecrated the American flag.

However, they claim the flag has become a false idol and it's their way of showing that to the public.

State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, says the judge's ruling has gone too far.

"I was enraged. I thought the ruling was appalling. I'm a big supporter of our First Amendment as anyone is, but there are limitations to it," said Kaufmann.

Allan Gerald is a 24-year U.S. Army Reserves veteran and says seeing the flag reminds him of the value of our country's vigilance.

"It symbolizes America for me," said Gerald. "Soldiers, especially being deployed that's one of the major symbols of our country, that's what we fight for. It's a symbol of our nation and I don't think people should be allowed to desecrate it by any means."

Both Gerald and Representative Kaufmann say our country's colors of bravery and valor are now devalued after the ruling, and Kaufmann plans on fighting it,

"To be able to do this to the symbol of our very existence," said Kaufmann. "I plan on putting up a fiery fight. So I intended on pursuing legislation that will narrow that down and really focus on the insight violence part."

However, others say others mistreating the American flag is free speech.

"I'm in favor of free speech, so my inclination says we should have fewer restrictions rather than more," said Iowa City resident John Ritz.

Ritz says the essence of free speech will sometimes make people mad, but says just because desecrating the flag is not a crime, doesn't make it right.

"I think we should not understand that the ruling is saying it's OK to burn the flag, the ruling is saying it's not OK to make it a crime," said Ritz.

Kaufmann says he has talked with other lawmakers across eastern Iowa and plans to enact a "strong legislative fix" very soon.

"[The ruling] does not fall under the expression category, it falls under the stupidity category," said Kaufmann.

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