How do presidents and governors decide flag orders for half of their employees?

The American flag is on a half-mast on a pole near a glowing street light in Clearwater, Florida, during a storm.

On February 19, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantes ordered that state flags be lowered to half-staff to honor the conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh.

It was controversial because Limbaugh was so controversial – a champion of conservatives, yet hateful of others – and it raised questions about how government leaders determine who is honored in this way.

lets take alook.

Who makes the decision?

First, it is important to note this Only presidents and governors Half the employees can order orders. Mayors cannot, except for the District of Columbia.

Can presidents and governors order flags to be lowered to whomever they want? Here, the record is a bit ambiguous.

It seems logical that the first place to look for an answer is the Federal Flag symbol, Which covers every aspect of how the American flag is displayed and cared for. Section 7 (m) of the Code provides ample details about who is covered – “key figures” in the government, prominent foreign figures, members of the armed forces or first responders who die while on active duty – but there is no mention of groups or individuals who do not. Among those groups who were honored by raising flags.

Here we are mainly talking about groups of victims, such as those who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These appointments have been repeated over the years. Most recently, they included half a million Americans who died from COVID-19. On February 22, President Biden ordered the flags to be flown for five days in honor of their lives.

Although the science law does not mention victim groups, this is clearly an agreement that has taken hold over time. When it comes to commemorating individuals with the orders of half the employees, superiors have not strayed much from the definitions of Division 7 (M). Barack Obama, The most active flag-lowering president in our history, Assigned Nancy Reagan and Astronaut Neil Armstrong to half-staff orders, which might seem a bit extended under the letter of Section 7 (M). But one could argue – perhaps – that they were indeed “key figures in government”.

Tribute to Yogi Berra and Police Dog

But the really odd half-employee business, like the current one in Florida, is statewide. to sign up , Florida law He appears to be providing the state governor enough space to order the flags to be lowered to anyone who wants them. It states that flags may be lowered “upon the death of senior state officials, law enforcement personnel, uniformed firefighters, and prominent citizens.”

So, if DeSantis considers Limbaugh, who lived in Palm Beach, a “prominent citizen,” he may order the flags to be lowered.

While Limbaugh’s confession in Sunshine State is definitely one of the most controversial half-staff actions ever, there were a few other bizarre actions:

  • In 2016, then-governor John Kasich ordered the lowering of Ohio flags in honor of a police dog, Jethro, who was killed during a robbery investigation.
  • New Jersey Gov. Christ Christy has released half-staff advertisements for a group of Garden State artists: singer Whitney Houston, great baseball player Yogi Berra, saxophone player Clarence Clemons, and actor James Gandolfini.
  • In 2016, flags were lowered in Rhode Island for a convicted felon, former Providence mayor, Buddy Sciance.

In addition, mayors sometimes issued orders for half of the employees in defiance or ignorance of the science law, which says they cannot do so. In 2009 Carson, Nevada lowered flags in honor of singer Michael Jackson, sparking outrage among its more conservative citizens, and in 2008, Buffalo lowered the flags of television journalist and his original son Tim Rossert.

Willful ignorance

One of the strange aspects of flagging orders is the lack of actual penalties for agencies or judicial authorities who refuse to follow them. In Florida, Palm Beach County and St.Petersburg won’t lower the Limbaugh flags, and the state’s Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Freed, said her agency wouldn’t do so either.

The DeSantis order limited half of the staff to a single day, February 24th, from sunrise to sunset. February 24 was also the third day of President Biden’s half-staff order for COVID-19 victims. So half of the workers were already in the flags in Palm Beach County and St. Petersburg and in the Agriculture Department offices.

Elsewhere in Florida that day, you might be forgiven for looking at the knowledge of half a staff member and wondering who it honors. Rush Limbaugh? Or a victim of COVID-19?

A few years ago, the Associated Press did A questionnaire And it found that flags in the U.S. were at half the employees 328 days that year.

Have they become so familiar that they lose their meaning? If we look at flags with half staff on it and don’t know why they landed, what’s the point?

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