decided: June 21, 1974.
CARNEY, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH V. YOUNG, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH V. URENOVICH, APPELLANT
Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, No. 138 of 1971, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Donald D. Carney. Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Sept. T., 1970, No. 77, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Norman Young. Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, No. 1175 of 1971, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John Urenovich.
In appeal No. 42, Arthur L. Berger, for appellant.
R. Lewis, with him Marion E. MacIntyre, Deputy District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
In appeal No. 652, John R. Merrick, Public Defender, for appellant.
F. Ned Hand, Assistant District Attorney, with him William H. Lamb, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
In appeal No. 1439, Bruce S. Miller, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Patrick J. Toole, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ.
Author: Per Curiam
[ 229 Pa. Super. Page 471]
Each of the appellants in this matter was convicted of flag desecration. Each contends that his conviction should be reversed because the Pennsylvania Flag Desecration Act*fn1 is unconstitutionally void for vagueness.
The three appellants herein were charged in separate indictments and convicted of desecrating the flag under the portion of the desecration act which specifically
[ 229 Pa. Super. Page 472]
proscribes the casting of contempt upon the banner of the United States.
In Smith v. Goguen,*fn2 42 L.W. 4393 (U.S. Sup. Ct., March 25, 1974), the Supreme Court of the United States passed upon the same question and held that the Massachusetts Flag Misuse Statute,*fn3 which is substantially similar to the Pennsylvania Act, was unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Justice Powell speaking for the majority with respect to the cast contempt provision wrote: "Indeed, because display of the flag is so common and takes so many forms, changing from one generation to another and often difficult to distinguish in principle, a legislature should define with some care the flag behavior it intends to outlaw. Certainly nothing prevents a legislature from defining with substantial specificity what constitutes forbidden treatment of United States flags. The statutory language at issue here fails to approach that goal and is void for vagueness." 42 L. W. at 4398 (footnotes omitted).
Although we do not condone behavior which defiles the flag of this great nation, the mandate of the United States Supreme Court is clear. Thus, we are compelled to rule the Pennsylvania Flag Desecration Act unconstitutional.
Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial courts, vacate the convictions, and order appellants discharged.
Judgments reversed, convictions vacated, and appellants discharged.