GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Flag Day is the time we celebrate the adoption of the U.S. flag back in 1777.
But there are ways you might be disrespecting the flag without even knowing it.
Our team Verified: Does the Flag Code penalize people who don't follow it?
From the way people dress and decorate, to their disposable dishes, this time of year the flag is everywhere.
But these ways of showing pride and patriotism violate the Flag Code.
“The Flag Code is a series of over 50 different provisions describing the various ways congress and the president, basically the federal government, believe we should treat the flag with respect,” said Devin Schindler, a professor of constitutional law at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.
The series of laws in the U.S. Code have a specific section which include:
- The flag should never be used as apparel.
- Bunting needs to be blue, then white, then red.
- The flag should not be printed on paper napkins or anything designed for temporary use.
- It should never be used for advertising purposes.
“The [U.S. Supreme Court] ruled that the government cannot punish people that violate the Flag Code if they’re doing so to express a message or generally speaking an anti-American message," Schindler said. "Because we have a right under the First Amendment to express our ideas.”
A Congressional Research Service report verifies: “the Flag Code does not prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement provisions; rather the Code functions simply as a guide…”
But there is some irony to this story.
“Someone could take the position, I suppose, that I am technically violating the Flag Code by using the flag as an accoutrement to my outfit," Schindler said. "But my purpose here is very much is to respect the flag and to show my great love of the flag.”
After all, the First Amendment gives us the right.
"My tie at the end has the constitution, 'We the people,'" Schindler said. "Reminding us that on days like today the importance of taking a moment and understanding and appreciating the beauty that is the American system.”
On June 14,1923 the National Flag Conference named guidelines for display and use of the flag.
Almost 20 years later, in 1942, the code became law.