Flag Desecration

A bit of history…

MARCH 7, 1907

Nicholas Vanderbilt Halter, part of the Willow Springs Brewing Company of Omaha, Nebraska, was charged with (what equated to) desecration of the flag.  A label and advertising for Stars and Stripes Bottled Beer was found illegal according to a 1903 Nebraska flag protection law.  He fought the charges and lost. He then appealed to the US Supreme Court.

In Halter v. Nebraska (205 U.S. 34), the Court upheld the conviction of two businessmen for “desecrating the flag by using its imagery on the label of their Stars and Stripes beer.”  They determined that a Nebraska law forbidding the use of the flag for advertising merchandise — in this case, beer —did not violate the Constitution.  The court, however, considered the case only on property rights and not in regard to the First Amendment.  Halter lost and was charged a $50 fine.  This was the first US Supreme Court decision on flag desecration!

Written by the great granddaughter of Mr. Halter.

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