News & Events

Justin Dillon Talks Football And The First Amendment In The Washington Post

Following President Trump’s recent suggestion that NFL players protesting the national anthem should be fired by their teams’ owners, The Washington Post asked several attorneys whether the comments crossed any legal lines.

Not so, according to Kaiser Dillon partner Justin Dillon.  “Even the president has a First Amendment right to be obnoxious.”

“What would be a problem,” Dillon said, “is if he went beyond using the bully pulpit and actually ordered the government to take action against any of these teams or their players.”

That’s because while the president has a constitutional right to speak his mind, he has no right to use government power to punish those he disagrees with.

Quoted alongside legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams and constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, Dillon warned that the public shouldn’t confuse someone’s right to free speech with whether their speech is right.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t condemn remarks like this,” said Dillon, “but we should defend his right to say them.  That’s an important distinction that’s being lost in our increasingly speech-suspicious society.”

Justin Dillon can be reached at jdillon@kaiserdillon.com.