Huckabee: No Violation of First Amendment to Fire Protesting Players
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, is backing him on his criticism about NFL players in an article on his website.
Huckabee stressed that if protesting NFL players were fired for their demonstration, as Trump has suggested, it would not be a violation of their First Amendment rights, writing that “The First Amendment protects you from government reprisals, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to say anything you want when you’re at work, especially when you’re in the company uniform and representing your employer to the public.”
To back up his claim, the former governor cites a standard paragraph in any NFL contract, which requires a player to “conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for and approval of those associated with the game.”
Huckabee emphasized that an employee cannot be jailed for saying something that angers customers at the company for which he works, but a worker can be fired for doing that. In the example of a NFL player, taking actions that anger the fans and make them less likely to support the team is a violation of his contract.
“If Colin Kaepernick’s Fed Ex guy delivered a right-wing political rant with every package,” Huckabee wrote, “I bet he’d be on the phone demanding that Fed Ex absolutely, positively can him.”
In any case, the former governor accused the NFL of political bias by citing the issue of freedom of speech, because the league “has already set a precedent of saying no to players who took a knee in prayer, wore T-shirts with Christian slogans on them or tried to put decals on their helmets in support of the police.”