Dershowitz: NFL Players Don’t Have a Constitutionally Protected Right to Kneel During the Anthem

AP Michael Dwyer
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

When explaining their reasoning for why national anthem protests should be allowed, many players have been quick to point out that they’re merely 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, says that the constitution offers the players no such protection.

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.

Dershowitz explained, “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 added that he believes, the First Amendment is “working well” in the context of the NFL, because “both sides are being heard.”

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.