Justice Breyer appeared on Good Morning America today, telling George Stephanopoulous that burning the Koran may not be protected by the First Amendment. As Breyer puts it, this may be akin to “shouting fire in a crowded theater,” since internet-driven publicity could bring retaliatory violence here or abroad.
Let me get this straight – burning a Koran isn’t protected the same way that burning a Bible or the American flag is, or a neo-Nazi march through a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors. The “crowded theater” is now global, and all someone has to do to diminish the First Amendment rights of all Americans is threaten to use violence if an offending word is uttered.
That’s not a consistent interpretation of the First Amendment, but Breyer’s record of consistency isn’t very good when constitutional rights may put lives at risk.