What you probably do not know is that a decade ago, Hillary Clinton called for similar harsh punishments. Then a United States Senator for New York, Clinton co-sponsored the Flag Protection Act of 2005. Senator Robert Bennett, a Republican from Utah, introduced the bill to the Senate in October 2005.
“The flag of the United States is a unique symbol of national unity and represents the values of liberty, justice and equality,” the bill said. “Abuse of the flag,” it continued, “causes more than pain and distress to the overwhelming majority of the American people and may amount to fighting words or a direct threat to the physical and emotional well-being of individuals.” If intended to incite violence, the bill stated, destroying a flag went beyond political speech and therefore was not protected under the First Amendment, as the Supreme Court had ruled it was in 1989 and 1990.
For “any person” who burns a flag or causes one to be burned in order to incite violence, the bill called for a maximum fine of $100,000 or one year imprisonment, or both. If the desecrated flag belonged to the U.S. government, the maximum penalties would rise to $250,000 and two years behind bars.