Was Kaepernick’s First Amendment Right Violated?

Could President Trump’s actions around the National Anthem protests have violated Colin Kaepernick’s freedom of speech?

NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is less known for his abilities as a football player, and more for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality — and the ire that has drawn from President Trump and various members of his administration, both on television and on Twitter.

NFL flag

Despite being a skilled quarterback, one of the best in the league, Kaepernick has not played a single game since 1 Jan 2017. Currently a free agent, he is free to be signed by any team, but in the last 2 seasons, no one has. A few teams initially showed interest but backed out after he refused to promise that he would end his national anthem protest.

Kaepernick is suing, alleging that Trump’s comments and private conversations with NFL owners lead them to blacklist him. His legal team is interested in the content and spirit of these discussions, as well as discover if the administration put pressure on the NFL. Depending on their findings, they might attempt to subpoena the President and other officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

While NFL executives have admitted that Trump influenced their new anthem policy, that doesn’t mean he influenced it directly, or that he has influenced any other decisions by the league.

If Kaepernick’s allegations are true, it would mean that members of the Trump administration, including the President himself, violated his right to free speech. A government official is barred from using the power or influence of their office to stifle political expression or to punish those who express themselves politically. Things could get complicated from there.


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