May the government ban flag burning or the KKKs practice of cross burning?
The Supreme Court has held that burning a flag for purposes of peaceful political protest is protected under the First Amendment as a form of symbolic speech. The government may not prohibit flag burning just because it finds the burning of the flag offensive. Other laws, however, such as those governing arson or the use of fires in public places, still may apply to the burning of a flag just as they would apply to any inappropriate fire. Although reprehensible, the racist practice of cross burning is protected, expressive conduct. Like flag burning, however, cross burning still may run afoul of neutral laws, such as anti-arson statutes or trespassing regulations.