In the spring of 2007, Joseph Yamrus chose to express his disagreement with the Middle East policy of certain members of Congress by flying the US flag upside down (an internationally recognized distress signal). On March 30, a neighbor who misunderstood the symbol to suggest opposition to the war in Iraq complained to the local police. Washington Township Officer Scott Miller ordered Yamrus to turn his flag around or take it down. After Yamrus refused, Officer Miller Officer Miller issued Yamrus a citation under a Pennsylvania law that makes it illegal to "insult" the flag of either the United States of America or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The charges were dropped by the Northampton County district attorney after Yamrus' attorney contacted the local magistrate.

On June 18, 2008, the ACLU of PA filed suit on behalf of Mr. Yamrus, charging that the township violated Mr. Yamrus' right to free expression.

Press Release:


Paul Saint-Antione (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP); Mary Catherine Roper (ACLU of PA)

Date filed

June 18, 2008