Betsy Ross and the American Flag

Flag Code Violations in the News

Also visit the American Flag Wall of Shame .

Please note that this website is non-partisan and use here is only to highlight violations of the Flag Code, as they are found posted by responsible news outlets or that have gone viral online.

Most pictures can be clicked for enlargements.

obamaflag

March 2012, Lake County, Florida. A flag depicting the President's face in the blue field in place of the stars was removed from Democratic headquarters in response to complaints from local veterans. The flag is very similar to the one we commented on three years ago (see January 19, 2009 below). Section 8g of the Flag Code reads, "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature." Photo credit: Donald L. Van Beck

Whitney Houston

Feb. 15, 2012, New Jersey Governor Christie issued an Executive order to half-staff the US flag and state flag at all state facilities in honor of Whitney Houston (pictured). Section 7m authorizes the President, the Governor, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia to half-staff the US flag in certain circumstances. Can the governor order the US flag to half-mast?

October 25, 2011. An Occupy Wall Street participant in San Diego, California, used a flag as a chew toy for a dog. "The flag should not be ... allowed to touch the ground." (Flag Code, Section 7n) "No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America." (Flag Code, Section 8)

jobs-apple jobs-disneyworld jobs-microsoft
Robert Scoble, Matthew Weiland, GeekWire
Flags at Apple, Disney World, and Microsoft

October 6, 2011. In memory of Steve Jobs, US flags were hung at half-staff at Apple headquarters and Disney World. Those two displays are not in accordance with the Flag Code. However, at Microsoft's headquarters, the US flag flew at full-staff, and the Microsoft corporate flag flew at half staff.

Section 7m authorizes the President, the Governor, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia to half-staff the US flag in certain circumstances. Can my company fly the US flag at half-mast for a former employee?

Martin Bashir
click to view video

May 31, 2011. MSNBC's Martin Bashir accused Sarah Palin of a possible breach of federal law, saying that the flag (painted on her bus) should never be used for advertising purposes. There can be no breach, as the Flag Code is only advisory. There is a long unchallenged tradition of politicians using the flag. However, the partial flag on her bus is recognizable as a flag, so does constitute a US flag. Bashir is correct that the Flag Code states that the flag should never be used for advertising purposes.

us-china

January 18, 2011. China's flag flanked by the U.S. flag in Washington, DC, for Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit. Contrary to the online uproar, this is not a violation of the Flag Code. Section 7g reads, "When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace." Photo credit: Reuters

palin

October 20, 2010. In a video (at 1:30), Sarah Palin is seen signing a flag for a supporter. Flag Code: "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature." Watch full video (from guardian.co.uk)

gatorbowl2010

January 1, 2010. The Allstate Sugar Bowl opening ceremony featured Lady Antebellum. Behind them the oversized American flag fell to the ground in front of a national audience. Two Flag Code violations were committed by this ceremony: (Section 8b.) "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground." (Section 8c.) "The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free." more

barackflag

January 19, 2009, Baltimore, MD. Flags overprinted with the new President's image and name are distributed to celebrate his inauguration. Section 8g of the Flag Code reads, "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature." Photo credit: Baltimore Sun

russert

June 13, 2008, Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo, ordered all flags at city buildings lowered to half-staff in honor of news journalist Tim Russert (pictured). Section 7m authorizes the President, the Governor, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia to half-staff the US flag in certain circumstances. Can the mayor order the US flag to half-mast?

Mexican-US flags

Reno, Nevada, October 2, 2007, the flagpole at a local bar displayed the Mexican flag above the US flag on the same flagpole. Section 7g reads, "When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace." Photo source: KRNV News 4
Can a foreign flag fly above the US flag?

Albanian pro-Americans

Albania, June 10, 2007, the woman's flag is union out; the man is wearing flag shorts; his flag is touching the ground. Section 7h reads, "the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff." Section 8d reads, "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel." Section 8b reads, "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground." Of course, the Flag Code doesn't apply in Albania. Photo credit: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

bush911

September 11, 2006, President Bush and first lady Laura Bush stand on a carpet of the American flag at Ground Zero in Manhattan, the site of the September 11, 2001 attack. Section 8b of the Flag Code reads, " The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground..." Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

upsidedown

April 2006, Latino protesters carry a US flag union down to protest pending federal legislation with harsher immigration policies, in Costa Mesa, California. Section 8a. "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images/David McNew
Is it okay to display the flag upside down in protest?

Kid Rock, Super Bowl 2004

Super Bowl 2004, Janet Jackson's "costume malfunction" made international news; that same half-time show featured the wearing of an American flag by performer Kid Rock. He later removed the flag poncho and hurled it over his head. Section 8d. reads, "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel." Photo credit: Reuters

President Bush and flag

In July 2003 President Bush autographed a small flag. This picture was circulated across the Internet noting its violation of the Flag Code: "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature." Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Page 3: Folding and Displaying