A bill authored by an Indiana lawmaker would reportedly force the Indianapolis Colts to offer refunds to any ticket purchasers who are offended because a member of the team kneels during the national anthem.
Such legislation, which effectively imposes a fine if private citizens express a political viewpoint the state disapproves of, violates the Constitution’s promise of free speech. As the Supreme Court explained in Boos v. Barry, laws prohibiting individuals “from engaging in classically political speech” strike “at the core of the First Amendment.”
Led by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, many NFL players began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest systemic racism in the United States. Such acts of protest are a form of “classically political speech.”
The lawmaker behind the bill, Rep. Milo Smith (R), told the Indiana Star that he plans to introduce this legislation because “our government isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best country in the world and I think we need to be respectful of it.”
One way to be respectful of our country is for lawmakers to follow the Bill of Rights.