Fight to Fly the American Flag Becomes National Issue
Article Courtesy of NewsMax.com
By Phil Brennan
Posted September 16, 2003
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Embattled ex-Marine
George Andres, threatened with the loss of his home because of his refusal
to stop flying the American flag, can breathe easier, thanks to Sean Hannity.
His homeowners association is threatening
to foreclose on his house to collect legal expenses and fines it says he
owes because of his defiance of association’s orders to remove his flagpole.
Hannity assured Andres on Friday night’s
"Hannity & Colmes" show that he would raise the $25,000 Andres needs
to pay the claim and promised to contribute the first $5,000 out of his
own pocket. Moreover, he promised to raise more money to buy and install
a second flagpole on the property.
Andres has attracted nationwide attention
and the praise of scores of his fellow Americans for his courage in refusing
to back down on his determination to proudly display Old Glory 24 hours
a day. Gov. Jeb Bush visited Andres' Jupiter home last year on Flag Day
and later signed a law that allows Florida residents to fly an American
flag "in a respectful manner" regardless of busybodies' rules.
Bush has sent state Attorney General Charlie
Crist to assist Adres by arguing that the ex-Marine’s home is constitutionally
protected under the state's homestead law from foreclosure by a homeowners
Circuit Judge Edward Fine, who had earlier
approved a foreclosure, agreed in May to reconsider his order. Two weeks
ago, however, Fine rejected Crist’s homestead argument and found the association
had a right to file a lien.
A foreclosure sale is scheduled for Oct.
9, but Andres' attorney has filed an appeal. Andres told NewsMax.com that
Crist was also appealing. Under Florida's homestead law, a homeowner’s
residence cannot be taken by foreclosure except to collect back taxes or
mortgages, or bills owed contractors for work on the home.
In an interview with NewsMax, Andres explained:
"I went before the board of the homeowners association four years ago and
asked for permission to put the American flag on a pole, and the board
gave me permission because the state of Florida had a law that was written
in 1995 that said homeowners associations are prohibited from banning the
flying of the American flag regardless of any rules and regulations or
bylaws except for size, safety and location which must be adopted into
"I put the flagpole up, and seven months
later a new board came in and ruled that I had violated the homeowners
statutes on the flag, and I said, ‘What homeowners statute?’ They said
the one that says that you have to fly the flag from your building. I asked
them, ‘Where does it say that?’
"The fact is there is nothing in the homeowners
documents that say where or when and state law prohibits them from saying
any such thing.
"They took me into court, and they got
a judge who said that I was guilty of violating the homeowners documents
for flying the American flag on a flagpole. He said that it made no difference
what the state law said, the homeowners documents counted. But they never
found the place in the documents where it said where to put the flag."
Andres said he appealed, but the appeals
court affirmed the first judge’s ruling, and five or six months later "they
took us into foreclosure, and because of the homestead law, which is very
clear that the only thing they can foreclose on is for taxes, mortgages
or contractors' liens. The homeowners association was, however, using legal
fees and fines, which does not come under the provisions of the law.
"At that point the attorney general stepped
in to defend the homestead law, which is 130 years old. The judge had taken
away the foreclosure order at that time, so we had another hearing before
the judge five weeks ago. We explained that we were homesteaded in 1989
and all the time that this was going on. The judge said it wasn’t clear
that we were homesteaded.
"The attorney general told me yesterday
that the judge was in error because first of all he said that there was
no such thing as Title 36 US 10. I have now sent the judge a copy of that
Andres cited a ruling by the U.S. Supreme
Court that says anything you do on your private property – signs, flags,
and anything like that - is an expression of your feelings and is covered
under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The judge doesn’t want to
hear that either.
"Right now the attorney general has stepped
in because they want to protect the homestead law and the state’s statutes
on flying the flag. So right now my attorney Barry Silver and Attorney
General Charlie Crist are readying an appeal."
The homeowners association refused to talk
No matter what the outcome of the appeal,
this courageous ex-Marine can be sure he won’t lose his home for flying
the American flag, thanks to Sean Hannity. And the homeowners association
can look foreward to continuing to learn what many of America’s enemies
learned the hard way: what it’s like to go head to head with a U.S. Marine.
Semper Fi, George.