Greg Ramsey has a bone to pick with the way a number of Missoula and Montana courts display Old Glory. It’s not that the flags don’t have enough stars or stripes—Ramsey has a problem with the flags’ gold fringe. He says that’s a military flag, indicating military court procedures, and has no place in civilian courts.
“I believe that the courts have frauded people out of several rights,” he says. “They’ve gotten to the point where if they find some arbitrary or imaginary technicality, they can basically do away with rights, and I think they’ve done it under this flag.”
According to Army Regulations 840-10, a U.S. flag with gold fringe is a military flag.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that flags mean something,” he says. “The fringe, with all reasonable interpretations of statutes and regulations, implies a military court room—an unconstitutional, unlawful, criminal one, but nevertheless a military court room.”
Ramsey has argued his case in front of Municipal Court Judge Don Louden, Justice of the Peace John Odlin and a number of district court judges, but hasn’t gotten much of a response. On the local court circuit, Ramsey and his case have become a fixture.
“He’s been doing this for years,” says Missoula County Detective Dave Fowlkes, who is in charge of court bailiffs. “There have been a few times where we’ve had to come over and take him out of court.”
Fowlkes says he’s no expert, but he doesn’t think Ramsey’s case is going anywhere.
“If it was illegal to fly these flags, the Department of the Army would have done something about it a long time ago,” says Fowlkes.
Rattling off court cases and U.S. codes with astonishing familiarity, Ramsey says he won’t be dissuaded by naysaying judges or law enforcement officers. After being ignored or tossed out of local courts and the Montana Supreme Court, he’s recently taken his case all the way to the top—the U.S. Supreme Court. As of yet, the Supreme Court hasn’t responded.