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    10.18.17 Professor Jodi Balsam Discusses Legal Issues Surrounding Anthem Protests
    Jodi Balsam

    In a recent interview that aired on the LawNewz Network, Professor Jodi Balsam discussed the myriad legal issues surrounding the actions of some NFL players to kneel during the playing of the national anthem and the decision by some public schools to require students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Her main takeaway: a distinction needs to be made between public and private institutions when considering the ramifications of these issues.

    Balsam, who was previously the NFL’s Counsel for Operations and Litigation, said the players have long used their celebrity and talents to advance social causes, and that the organization often encourages this. She noted that the NFL is a private institution, so the players don’t have a First Amendment claim regarding their demonstrations on the field. But they might have some legal recourse in one of four other areas: civil rights, contract law, labor law, or local municipal or state law.

    Regarding a student protest of the Manatee County (Florida) School District’s rule requiring students to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Balsam noted that the Supreme Court has held that public schools cannot force students to comply with this kind of requirement.

    “The public schools in Florida who are attempting to enforce their codes requiring students to stand during the [pledge] come up against some undeniable Supreme Court precedent that says that students have a right to silent, non-disruptive protest in public schools,” she said.

    Watch the interview.