Flag desecration charges against a former York, Pa., man have wisely been withdrawn in Adams County.

Now, how about withdrawing Pennsylvania's clearly unconstitutional law?

In June, Robert S. Forrey, then living in York, was charged by state police with flag desecration, littering and disorderly conduct.

Police said they found him along the side of the road near routes 15 and 116 in Straban Township. Officers alleged they found litter around his vehicle and a torn and cut American flag hanging from a tree.

Mr. Forrey, now living in Kentucky, denied the desecration charge — though he spent several days in prison because he could not make bail.

His attorney argued that the state's flag desecration charge is facially unconstitutional because it intrudes upon freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such laws are unconstitutional.

Recently, prosecutors pulled the charges and a judge agreed.

That was the right call.

Flag desecration, regardless of whether it occurred in this case, is repugnant to most people. But we don't need a First Amendment to protect freedom of expression that is popular and commonplace. It exists to protect unpopular or controversial speech — such as burning or otherwise desecrating the symbol of our nation.

Our state's flag desecration law is a relic and should be repealed.


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Do any state legislators from our area have the political courage to back such a repeal, knowing that easily could be spun against them by cynical opponents come election time?

Maybe not.

But here's one argument a gutsy legislator might make: Repealing an unconstitutional law can save tax dollars. Mr. Forrey's case was not as expensive as, say, a death penalty prosecution, but it still cost police time, prosecutor time, public defender time, court time, etc.

Surely such resources in these times of tight government revenues could be better spent.