When some NFL players kneeled during the National Anthem, the nation screamed for Justice. Now, a prominent Harvard law scholar talks about the legality of the potential rule that banned the NFL players from kneeling.
The NFL reasoning for why national anthem protests should be allowed is merely undemocratic. Many players have been quick to point out that they’re just exercising their constitutional rights under the First Amendment. Well, someone who has forgotten more about the First Amendment than any inside linebacker will ever know because the constitution offers the players no such protection according to Alan Dershowitz.
During a radio interview with John Castimatidis on 970 AM in New York, constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz said that the players have no constitutional right to kneel.
“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 added that he believes, the First Amendment is “working well” in the context of the NFL, because “both sides are being heard.”
He also mentioned 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.
Dershowitz is certainly correct in his appraisal of the constitutional implications of the player protests. He’s more right than not when saying that “both sides are being heard.” However, while both sides of the protest debate have spoken, clearly, the NFL is only listening to one side.
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.