Fox News anchor Julie Banderas said Friday on “Outnumbered” that burning the American flag is “a crime,” and not one of her four co-hosts corrected the statement.
Burning the American flag, while sure to upset some, is perfectly legal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 in Texas v. Johnson that the act is “symbolic speech” and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
On the show, Banderas’ co-host Carley Shimkus brought up a video she had seen of protesters burning an American flag during President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” event on Thursday, saying that a counterprotester used his hands to smother the flames.
“It means a lot to a lot of people,” Shimkus said of the flag.
Banderas jumped in to note that two people were arrested over the act.
“And it’s a crime to burn the American flag,” she said. “That’s how much we respect our American flag.”
Banderas, who also stepped in for Fox News anchor Shepard Smith on Friday afternoon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
She correctly stated that it is “not technically illegal to burn a flag” during Smith’s program, as Contemptor’s Justin Baragona noticed, but did not mention her earlier comment.
Though two people were in fact arrested Thursday after setting fire to a U.S. flag, officers cited them for doing so without a permit from the National Park Service, reported WJLA, a local news station.
The comment came during a discussion about Nike’s controversial decision to pull a “Betsy Ross” shoe that featured an early version of the U.S. flag that represented the 13 Colonies. Nike axed the shoe before it hit store shelves earlier this week at the reported urging of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player who began a protest movement of players taking a knee on the field during the national anthem to highlight racial inequality and police brutality.
There have been a few reported instances of the early flag’s use as a white supremacist symbol, but it does not appear on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of hate symbols.