Andrew Napolitano on Why the Government Has No Business Flying the Confederate Flag

Government is required to protect hate but it has no business expressing its own opinions on anything.


Cuauhtemoc-Hidalgo Villa-Zapata/Flickr

The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., last week, obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the State expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the Statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and hate groups. The State is required to protect hate, argues Andrew Napolitano, but it has no business expressing opinions on anything—and thus the flag must go.

To some, the Confederate flag represents resistance to federal authority enforced by military aggression; while to others, it represents racial oppression under color of law bringing about the worst violations of the natural rights of born persons in American history—namely slavery. Regardless, the government has no business flying it. The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to keep the government out of the business of speech, writes Napolitano. South Carolina legislators should vote to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse because all government speech should be off limits except that which is universally accepted (like the American flag), utterly innocuous (like the library is closed on Sundays), or absolutely necessary for governance (like speed limits on state roads).