Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Can you spot the stoopid statement in the following (from James Taranto's column)?

Weighing in against the proposed amendment, in an op-ed for the Charlotte Observer, is Dr. Susan Roberts:

Flag burning was thrust into the public eye following an arrest of a young man during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. The man identified himself as a member of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Youth Brigade. He was charged with a violation of the Texas Desecration of Venerated Objects statute.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court decision that the man was within his First Amendment rights. Wasting no time, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act just months after the ruling. Wasting no time, the Supreme Court ruled that the Flag Protection Act was inconsistent with First Amendment freedoms and thus unconstitutional.

It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would now uphold an amendment prohibiting flag burning, even with the change in the court's composition.

I hope you can spot it.

Says Taranto:

It may seem unlikely that the Supreme Court would uphold a statute prohibiting flag burning (and indeed, in 1990's U.S. v. Eichman it overturned the federal Flag Protection Act of 1989). That's why Congress is considering a constitutional amendment, which the court couldn't overturn.

It's embarrassing enough that Dr. Roberts's error got past the editors of the Observer, but it's even worse that she made such a goof in the first place. For she is not a real doctor but a professor of political science, at North Carolina's Davidson College, where she teaches such courses as The Legislative Process (POL 211) and The Politics of Feminism (POL 215).

It is troubling indeed to think that the political scientists of tomorrow are being taught by people who lack basic knowledge about the workings of American government.

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