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The Nation

Democrats blocked a Republican-proposed constitutional amendment to ban flag burning as they pursued passage of a statute they say can do the same thing without altering the Bill of Rights. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Texas), ruled out of order an attempt by Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) to bring before the committee an amendment backed by President Bush. Supporters of the amendment contend that changing the Constitution is the only way to overcome last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court that flag burning was a protected form of free expression. Democratic leaders, including Brooks and Speaker Thomas S. Foley of Washington are pursuing a statute designed to meet the court’s objections. Their strategy is aimed at avoiding damage to constitutional rights while demonstrating that Democrats abhor flag burning. Brooks scheduled another meeting of the panel today.


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