Is there a federal code requiring all people present, facing the American flag to stand with hand over heart?


No this is not a requirement, only a suggestion.


Art Spitzer, Legal Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia.

Legal Information Institute & National Archives


WUSA9 viewers asked our Verify team is it mandatory according to the U.S. Code for the national anthem guidelines, for people in presence of the American flag to stand with their right hand over their heart. This question came from several viewers after watching the Verify segment, if NFL players are required to stand during the National Anthem.

An excerpt from United States Code 301- National Anthem states, “All other person present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart.”

Corporate lawyers tell verify researchers the word “should” is crucial because the act now cannot be legally enforced.

WUSA9 researchers spoke with ACLU Legal Director in Washington D.C., Art Spitzer, said if the statue used a different word “shall” that word would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.


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