HOOD, Chief Judge.
Appellant was convicted on a charge that he did "knowingly cast contempt upon the flag of the United States by publicly mutilating, defacing and defiling said flag" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 700.
The facts are not in dispute. Appellant was subpoenaed to testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities on October 3, 1968.
Appellant makes the following contentions: (1) The Statute on its face is unconstitutionally vague; (2) the Statute as applied abridges freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment; and
A statute violates due process of law if it is so vague and standardless that it leaves the public uncertain as to the conduct it prohibits;
To sustain his claim that the Statute is so vague and broad that it permits discriminatory enforcement, appellant says that he has worn a similar shirt at other times and other places without being arrested. His statement does not prove his argument. The "conscious exercise of some selectivity in enforcement" of a law is permissible,
Appellant's contention that the Statute as applied abridges his freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment appears to be his chief contention on this appeal. He argues that his conduct was "symbolic speech" and that no distinction should be made between symbolic and non-symbolic communication of ideas. We disagree. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and not freedom of conduct. This is made clear in many of the Supreme Court decisions on the subject, too numerous to be cited. In one of its recent opinions, United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 376-377, 88 S.Ct. 1673, 1678-1679, 20 L.Ed.2d 672 (1968), the Court said:
Surely the Government has a substantial, genuine and important interest in protecting the flag from public desecration by contemptuous conduct. We find the Statute to be a reasonable regulation limited to prohibiting certain defined acts of conduct, and it does not unnecessarily impinge on a citizen's right to protest.
Appellant's final argument is that his conduct did not fall within the prohibition of the Statute. It is appellant's contention that the Statute requires public acts of physical destruction of the flag, and that his wearing of a shirt resembling the flag did not constitute such acts. We do not construe the Statute as narrowly as appellant urges.
The flag desecration Statute enumerates several forms of mistreating or abusing the flag which, by the very nature of the conduct, the offender is presumed to have intended to cast contempt upon the flag. The terms used in the Statute to describe the proscribed conduct; i. e., mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling, have clearly defined meanings in their ordinary usage, and each word connotes an objective act of desecration of the flag.
In the present case the information charges appellant with mutilating, defacing and defiling the flag. The term "defile" encompasses conduct which dishonors the flag as well as the generally more accepted use of making something filthy or dirty. The House of Representatives' report which accompanied the subject Statute defined the word "defile" to mean dishonor, and further stated that "[t]he bill does prohibit public acts of physical dishonor or destruction of the flag of the United States."
We conclude that the use of the word "defile" in the subject Statute was intended to include public conduct which brings shame or disgrace upon the flag by its use for an unpatriotic or profane purpose. It is our opinion that the wearing of a shirt which resembles the American flag, under the circumstances of this case, is a physical act which defiles the flag in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 700. Such a use of the flag would "degrade and cheapen the flag in the estimation of the people, as well as to defeat the object of maintaining it as an emblem of national power and national honor." Halter v. Nebraska, 205 U.S. 34, 42, 27 S.Ct. 419, 422, 51 L.Ed. 696 (1907).