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View Diary: Updated: S.C. Sheriff Refuses Executive Order to Fly Flag at Half-Staff (256 comments)

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  •  Essentially the Sheriff is declaring that he (45+ / 0-)

    is not bound by the laws of the United States.  While I'm willing to bet he's one of those "the Sheriff is the highest legal authority" chaps, the fact is that 4 USC § 7 says at (m), in part:

    "By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law." (my emphasis)
    Since there is a recognized 'custom or practice' of lowering the Flag to half-staff for foreign dignitaries such as presidents and prime ministers who have great historical weight, I can only most charitably assume that this sheriff considers himself an independent actor not bound by United State Code...

    ...I have some less charitable assumptions about this guy, but others have already covered those assumptions...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 08:33:26 PM PST

    •  the flag code is nonbinding "law" with no (25+ / 0-)

      enforcement provisions.  there are aren't any enforcement provisions because they would be flat out unconstitutional, so we have this sort of silly part of the US Code.

      anyone can break the flag code to their heart's content.

      •  Did not know that. Thanks. Oh well, best to (6+ / 0-)

        let yahoos like that have their little pyrrhic victories, while we defend the Constitution from what they and the Tea Party and Blue Dogs are doing to undermine the 99% of us.

        "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by Kombema on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 08:57:12 PM PST

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      •  Too bad. (9+ / 0-)

        It would have been so amusing to see Barney Fife there arrested by one of his own deputies.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 09:03:12 PM PST

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        •  Except for those of us... (4+ / 0-)

          ...who care about civil liberties, a declining group I admit.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 09:21:39 PM PST

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        •  What he is doing is not criminal. (7+ / 0-)

          But it's still so wrong.

          The flag code is not as set of laws, but a set of recommendations that constitutes proper flag etiquette. The old flag burning laws were not part of the flag code, but a now unconstitutional law that was written to enforce a piece of the flag code.

          In some localities, it's possible that in the past, he could have been arrested for not flying the flag at half staff when directed to.

          I would be willing to bet that this bozo was one of the first to scream when the Supreme Court ruled flag burning to be protected free speech.

          Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

          by RhodeIslandAspie on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 06:03:00 AM PST

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          •  I get this. But I can't help (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Munchkn, chrisculpepper

            wishing it were enforceable--because I am stuck in the South surrounded by men like this, and just once I'd like to see one pay a price for being an asshole.  I have too keep my opinions to myself because this type of redneck (sorry, folks, but I mean that as an insult) would have no problems beating up an uppity 5'3" redhead in her sixties.  They are gentlemen and peaches.

            I am sure this asshole DOES object to flag burning. My husband, a vet who spent 23 years in  the Navy, was aboard the carrier when they shot down the Libyan MiG, and has been in combat twice, said the only time he'd burn a flag is if he was forbidden to.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 02:01:37 PM PST

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      •  true dat, but (34+ / 0-)

        this is the first time a government official refused the order.  there are a lot of firsts with this black president.. (such as yelling at him during a State of the Union).  These wingnut baggers have so much contempt they degrade the office to spite him.

        The Seminole Democrat
        Confronting the criminally insane who rule our state; as well as the apathy of the vast majority who let them.

        by SemDem on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 09:11:18 PM PST

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        •  And their offices, too. /nt (12+ / 0-)

          Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
          I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
          —Spike Milligan

          by polecat on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 09:18:04 PM PST

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        •  You may be right but it really is distressing to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny wurster

          see this supposedly fact based community go tearing off into speculation and fantasy and, very bluntly, its own ignorance.

          The sheriff may be racist. He may be an ignorant ass. He may hate Obama. Still, the flag code is just a code of conduct that is widely ignored and has no penalties. First, the Constitution trumps USC and any code dealing with display of the flag is truly pretty much unenforceable. That sheriff could with legal impunity based on the Constitution do much more disrespectful things to that piece of colored cloth. Others burned the flag, got arrested and the courts ruled they had the Constitution on their side. So, since the sheriff does not fall in the presidential "chain of command" (actually, depending on state constitutions, maybe not even the governor's) he is not bound by any such code or order beyond simple respect. One of the "penalties" for living under our ideas of freedom of expression—and one I have to say that I respect.

          Presidential orders on the flag only apply to federal installations. Your statement this is the first time a government official refused the order ignores the fact the sheriff is a county official and I've seen flags on state, county and city buildings not at half staff quite frequently when all federal flags are at half staff. Just the other day I drove by the Pentagon and the big ones outside were down and on non-federal and private poles were not.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 12:54:42 PM PST

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          •  You are wrong (0+ / 0-)

            http://oa.mo.gov/...

            It is not just federal buildings....

            By order of the President of the United States, the United States flag at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, effective immediately until sunset on Monday, December 9, 2013, as a mark of respect for the passing of former South African President, Nelson Mandela.

            The White House

            Office of the Press Secretary

            For Immediate Release

            December 05, 2013

            The Seminole Democrat
            Confronting the criminally insane who rule our state; as well as the apathy of the vast majority who let them.

            by SemDem on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 01:41:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope. Really wrong answer! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              misslegalbeagle

              You link to a state web site, Missouri, whose governor is apparently following the proclamation's intent (as it did with the "Presidential Proclamation -- Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2013" down later in that link. So, yeah, there "all State and government offices" makes sense—and by the way, Missouri counties may not be obligated by law to follow the governor's proclamation.

              Read the White House version with my emphasis:

              As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, December 9, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

              IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

              BARACK OBAMA

              The qualifier is "of the Federal Government" that is always present in these "orders" to the federal organizations that are simply "proclamations" one hopes other jurisdictions outside federal government would follow. A few more examples are the one for JFK and in the Victims of the Tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard and can only "call upon" others to do so.

              Constitutional scholar Barack Obama knows better than try to extend his reach further than he can here. Hell, even George W. Bush knew that:

              As a mark of respect for those killed by the heinous acts of violence perpetrated by faceless cowards upon the people and the freedom of the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, Sunday, September 16, 2001. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

              In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-sixth.

              GEORGE W. BUSH

              As I said, it would help if people checked a bit more before, again, tearing off into speculation and fantasy and, very bluntly, its own ignorance.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 02:55:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  and no one here, lest of all me, is saying (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pelagicray

            he doesn't have the right to not lower the flag out of respect for Mandela...

            but I am saying, appropriately, that he is a dickwad for doing so....

            and his supposed justification that you don't fly a flag at half staff for foreign dignitaries is just plain false.

            The Seminole Democrat
            Confronting the criminally insane who rule our state; as well as the apathy of the vast majority who let them.

            by SemDem on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 01:44:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The sheriff pointed that out when somebody ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emyrphe, Eyesbright

        on his Facebook page called his attention to the provision of the flag code specifically referencing foreign dignitaries.  Basically, his position is that if they can't punish him for not doing it, he's not going to do it.

        Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

        by leevank on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 08:22:02 AM PST

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      •  Indeed! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo, Munchkn

        And another part of the code says that the flag is not to be worn as clothing.

        Seems like more than a few people break that one.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 08:28:59 AM PST

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      •  So it's OK to break any law (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eyesbright

        as long as you're not caught by anyone who can prosecute you?  

        Politics means controlling the balance of economic and institutional power. Everything else is naming post offices.

        by happymisanthropy on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 09:24:16 AM PST

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    •  soft nullification. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, Eyesbright

      Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

      by RhodeIslandAspie on Sat Dec 07, 2013 at 05:57:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As posted elsewhere, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      the word "or" controls, this sheriff's  flying the flag at full-staff -- which is "in accordance with recognized customs or practices" and is  not "inconsistent with [other] law." fully complies with U.S. law. Standing up for this sheriff's right to fly the flag at full staff, all the other arguments in this  thread notwithstanding, is fully American. Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", apparently misattributed to Voltaire, http://en.wikipedia.org/... of course applies to actions too! We should be defending this Sheriff's right to fly the flag at full-staff, even if unseemly.

      People are arrested all the time for acts like flag burning http://supreme.justia.com/... conviction overturned on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as a First Amendment right to "free speech", in response the congress passed the flag protection act of 1989 http://supreme.justia.com/... -- apparently not knowing that a U.S. Code cannot trump the U.S. Constitution, and people were promptly arrested for its violation, rightly held unconstitutional, arrests were vacated, held a First Amendment right of "free speech".

    •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

      The sheriff is bound by the constitution, which invalidates the above quote from 4 USC § 7.

      The president has no constitutional authority to order flags to be flown at any height.  He might as well declare it "Blue ink day."

      •  Does the sheriff take an oath to uphold the (0+ / 0-)

        constitution?  Genuine question, I don't know the answer.

        Don't believe the sheriff in my local county takes that oath, more that he vows to uphold the local laws. But perhaps this varies across jurisdictions?

        At any rate, you've made me think.  Thanks for that.

        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 07:48:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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