Monday, September 20, 2010

Justice Breyer Clarifies Earlier Remarks, Says Koran-Burning is Probably Constitutionally Protected

Justice Breyer made some headlines by suggesting you 'Might Not Have a First Amendment Right to Burn The Koran'. His latest remarks seem to indicate he has reconsidered.

"Josh Gerstein (Politico) has transcripts of Breyer’s Good Morning America remarks, which seemed to suggest that Koran-burning might be constitutionally unprotected, but also his more recent Larry King Live remarks, which pretty strongly suggest that Koran-burning is indeed constitutionally protected.
In any case, the new remarks seem to pretty strongly come out in favor of the constitutional protection of Koran-burning:

CNN’s Larry King: There’s no doubt that Pastor Jones, little church in Florida, had the right, he has the right to burn the Quran, doesn’t he?

Breyer: Yeah, I said it depends on what analogy you use, but the most one analogous case is that there was — you have the right to burn an American flag as a symbol....

King: ... Does [the flagburning decision] make us a great country?

Breyer: It helps. It helps.... [W]hat we’re saying is we protect expression that we hate. And protecting expression that we hate is not the only good thing in the world, but it is one good thing in the world. And when you have a country of 300 million different people who think different things, it is helpful. It is helpful to tell everyone, you can think what you want.

King: Hard for other people to comprehend why Nazis can march —

Breyer: There they are. You know, it’s so often I hear people say — and particularly this is a college students, sir. Well, that’s just so terrible what he’s saying. I say, oh, you think that free speech is only for people who don’t say things that are terrible....

I’m glad to hear Justice Breyer say that.

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