President Eisenhower issued the first proclimation on March 1st 1954 of when the flag is to be at "half staff".
But, as it relates to this story, is it unlawful to NOT fly the flag at "half staff"?
According to the Flag Code the answer is 'NO'.
With that in mind, lets read what happened to L.F. Eason.
From Think Progress
L.F. Eason, a 29-year veteran of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, “instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday” to honor the late senator Jesse Helms, “as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.” In a string of e-mail messages with his superiors, Eason was told he could either lower the flags or retire effective immediately. Here is Eason’s reasoning for his decision to retire:This is in no way a political decision. I simply do not feel it is appropriate to honor a person whose epitaph of government service was to have voted against or blocked every civil rights issue that came before the US Congress. His doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice cost North Carolina and our Nation much that we may never regain.
The flying of the flag at "half staff" is a gesture of reverance, but is widely seen as "law".
According to ushistory.org:
The Flag Code serves as a guide to be followed on a purely voluntary basis to insure proper respect for the flag. The Supreme Court has ruled that politically motivated violations of the Flag Code are protected by the First Amendment.
When one looks at Jesse Helms and his stance on civil rights, you get a pretty clear picture that not everyone is deserving of the "half staff honor".
Of course, some people seem to think he was great.
If this is one of the 'giants' of the Conservative movement, it really doens't say much about what they really believe.