What is the U.S. Code?
The United States Code is the official, subject matter order, compilation of the Federal laws of a general and permanent nature that are currently in force. In accordance with section 285b of title 2 of the U.S. Code, the Code is compiled by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives. The Code is divided into 50 titles by subject matter. Each title is divided into sections. Sections within a title may be grouped together as subtitles, chapters, subchapters, parts, subparts, or divisions. Titles may also have appendices which may be divided into sections, rules and/or forms.
The subjects covered by the 50 titles of the U.S. Code are:
- General Provisions
- The Congress
- The President
- Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States
- Government Organization and Employees
- Surety Bonds (repealed by the enactment of Title 31)
- Aliens and Nationality
- Armed Forces
- Banks and Banking
- Coast Guard
- Commerce and Trade
- Crimes and Criminal Procedure
- Customs Duties
- Food and Drugs
- Foreign Relations and Intercourse
- Hospitals and Asylums
- Internal Revenue Code
- Intoxicating Liquors
- Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
- Mineral Lands and Mining
- Money and Finance
- National Guard
- Navigation and Navigable Waters
- Navy (eliminated by the enactment of Title 10)
- Patriotic Societies and Observations
- Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services
- Veterans’ Benefits
- Postal Service
- Public Buildings, Property, and Works
- Public Contracts
- The Public Health and Welfare
- Public Lands
- Public Printing and Documents
- Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs
- Territories and Insular Possessions
- War and National Defense
The “FLAG CODE”
Previous to Flag Day, June 14, 1923 there were no federal or state regulations governing display of the United States Flag. It was on this date that the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference which was attended by representatives of the Army and Navy which had evolved their own procedures, and some 66 other national groups. This purpose of providing guidance based on the Army and Navy procedures relating to display and associated questions about the U. S. Flag was adopted by all organizations in attendance.
A few minor changes were made a year later during the Flag Day 1924 Conference, It was not until June 22, 1942 that Congress passed a joint resolution which was amended on December 22, 1942 to become Public Law 829; Chapter 806, 77th Congress, 2nd session. Exact rules for use and display of the flag (36 U.S.C. 173-178) as well as associated sections (36 U.S.C. 171) Conduct during Playing of the National Anthem, (36 U.S.C. 172) the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and Manner of Delivery were included.
This code is the guide for all handling and display of the Stars and Stripes. It does not impose penalties for misuse of the United States Flag. That is left to the states and to the federal government for the District of Columbia. Each state has its own flag law.
Criminal penalties for certain acts of desecration to the flag were contained in Title 18 of the United States Code prior to 1989. The Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Johnson; June 21, 1989, held the statute unconstitutional. This statute was amended when the Flag Protection Act of 1989 (Oct. 28, 1989) imposed a fine and/or up to I year in prison for knowingly mutilating, defacing, physically defiling, maintaining on the floor or trampling upon any flag of the United States. The Flag Protection Act of 1989 was struck down by the Supreme Court decision, United States vs. Eichman, decided on June 11, 1990.
While the Code empowers the President of the United States to alter, modify, repeal or prescribe additional rules regarding the Flag, no federal agency has the authority to issue ‘official’ rulings legally binding on civilians or civilian groups. Consequently, different interpretations of various provisions of the Code may continue to be made. The Flag Code may be fairly tested: ‘No disrespect should be shown to the Flag of the United States of America.’ Therefore, actions not specifically included in the Code may be deemed acceptable as long as proper respect is shown.