In light of the NFL anthem-kneeling controversy, famed Harvard law scholar Alan Dershowitz recently went on 970 AM in New York with John Catsimatidis to talk about the legality of a potential rule banning the NFL players from kneeling, the Washington Examiner reported.
“The players are entitled to kneel if the owners allow them to. Now the owners could say ‘no’ because the players don’t have a First Amendment right in relation to the owners. They only have a First Amendment right in relation to the government,” Dershowitz explained.
Dershowitz is correct. The First Amendment’s protections apply to the government not coercing speech. Private businesses and entities are still free to impose some limits on speech if they so chose.
Dershowitz noted that if the government started intervening in the situation — say, passing a law banning the protests — that’s when things would get messy and the players would have a legitimate reason to claim First Amendment violations.
“If it’s just a dispute between owners and players, then the owners have a right to impose their will on the players,” he explained.
You can listen to the full interview here. His remarks on the protests begin at time 1:00.
Dershowitz also stated that the First Amendment was “working well” because “both sides are being heard” in this dispute, with the American public largely siding against the protesters.
There are many people blindly claiming the First Amendment protects these players’ right to protest, but that’s simply untrue.
If the NFL owners had a spine and wanted to ban these protests, they could do so. But so far, it seems they’ve been afraid to actually stand up for the flag and tell these players that this sort of disrespect won’t be tolerated.
It’s real shame to watch, and in the meantime millions of Americans will exercise their right to not attend football games and not watch these players on TV.
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