Jupiter Flagman George Andres
September 12, 2003
DOBBS: Is there a house so fancy
or a lawn so manicured that a U.S. flag flying over it detracts from the
value of the neighborhood? Such a thing couldn't happen in this country,
Well, it's happening in Jupiter, Florida.
Marine veteran George Andres is in danger of losing his home tonight because
he flies an American flag in his front yard. His homeowner's association
prohibited flagpoles. The courts have agreed and say the association can
foreclose on his home to collect legal fees.
George Andres joins us now from Jupiter,
Florida. George, good to have you with us.
GEORGE ANDRES, FORMER MARINE: Good afternoon.
DOBBS: This is a remarkable story. You've
been fighting this for how long now?
ANDRES: Since 1999.
DOBBS: And what is the position of the
homeowner's association? Why is it that a flag is so detrimental to their
ANDRES: Well, first they said that it was
going to cost more to cut the grass around the pole, which is kind of funny.
And then they told me that the flagpole was going to take away from the
value of the property.
And I said, well, then we should be able
to take away all the trees around here, because they're the same as the
pole. And my pole is a portable poll. And the state government says I can
DOBBS: The state government says you can
do it. The courts say you can't. In fact, you're in danger of being foreclosed
upon. Governor Jeb Bush has come to your assistance. The Florida attorney
general has done so. Why are you in this situation tonight?
ANDRES: Because judges don't want to go
by what the state statutes say. And the judge who found against me on the
foreclosure is adding a new bracket to the state law, the Constitution.
And I don't know how he's doing it. But the state attorney general, Charlie
Crist, is going to go into court next week and try and find out.
DOBBS: Well, you have served in the U.S.
military, a former Marine. You have neighbors. You love your country. You
obviously love your neighborhood and your community. What do the men and
women there with whom you talk and live say to you?
ANDRES: Well, my neighbors all love my
flagpole. In fact, 15 of them filed suit against the homeowner's association
for using their money against a fruitful suit.
DOBBS: And, again, where's the mayor of
the city of Jupiter, Florida? Where is the city council? Where in the world
is your local government?
ANDRES: Well, the local government doesn't
want to get involved, because this is a homeowner's association.
And the homeowner's association has got
its own rules. And the city of Jupiter has its rules. And my flagpole,
according to their rules, is perfectly legal. It's a -- their law says
21-foot flagpole, and I only have a 20-foot flagpole.
DOBBS: And what has...
ANDRES: So the town just.... DOBBS: Go
ahead, George. Go ahead, George.
ANDRES: The -- and the town says that they
think it's absolutely ridiculous that this whole thing is going on. But
it's above and beyond their jurisdiction.
DOBBS: Your mortgage, I presume, is paid
up? The foreclosure -- the homeowner's association has the power to literally
foreclose on your home?
ANDRES: Well, they're going to attempt
to. It has a mortgage on it. The mortgage company would have to be paid
off and I really don't know what's going to happen. I'm just hoping that
we're going to get help from the state government and I hope that we're
going to be able to persuade these judges that the state law clearly says
what it says, and that the judge doesn't write into the law what's not
written in the law.
DOBBS: Well, you have the support of Governor
Bush. You have the support of the state attorney general. It's hard to
imagine that a -- a man or a woman in this country cannot put an American
flag on his or her lawn if they want to. That a homeowner's association
would have power that supersedes that of the state legislature, the state
attorney general, the local government, is mind boggling. How far are you
going to take this?
ANDRES: We're going to take this as far
as we have to. Have my attorney Barry Silver (ph), who's doing this pro
bono, and he's with me all the way. He says he'll take it to the United
States Supreme Court if we have to. But the United States Supreme Court
has ruled on a case very similar to this in 1995, and said anything that
you do on your private property with flags and signs are an expression
of your feelings, which is covered under the First Amendment of the Constitution
of the United States, which I feel is my right to put it up underneath
the Constitution, even though the state of Florida has rules that say you
can put it up, the top line is the Constitution.
DOBBS: And George, we -- we want to wish
you all the luck in the world in this process. We hope that reason prevails
in Florida. I can't imagine why you are still even having to -- to bear
this battle as a burden there. We appreciate you taking the time. As I
say, we wish you all of the best of luck.
ANDRES: No problem. I just hope that the
federal government turns around and passes the addendum to the flag law
that we're trying to get put in. And it will help everybody in the United
States who wants to fly their flags.
DOBBS: George Andres, Jupiter, Florida,
thanks for being with us.
We'd like to hear your opinion on the subject.
"Do you think every American has the right to fly the flag in his or her
frontyard? Yes or no?"
Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou.
Do you think all Americans have the right to fly the U.S.
flag in their front yard?
8% 137 votes
Total: 1757 votes