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Is Kneeling During the National Anthem a Constitutional Right?

American football player kneeling on the field

Take a Knee to Take a Stance: Can Athletes Do This?

Colin Kaepernick paved the way for professional athletes who aren’t happy with the state of the nation to make their voices heard. Racial inequalities and injustices throughout the US have ignited players to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech by kneeling during the national anthem.

As a reminder, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There are no set rules governing players’ rights to kneel during the anthem. This subject is an ongoing debate, but no rules have yet been established, and this controversial topic likely won’t result in the enforcement of regulations without backlash, at least.

Although Kaepernick made the brave decision to kneel during the anthem back in 2016, professional athletes in leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) continue to follow his example today. As a result, people across the globe continue to react strongly to these players’ powerful decisions. Many people support kneeling during the national anthem, while others are angered about these “disrespectful” actions.

Whichever side of the argument you’re on, it’s important to remember that all Americans are protected under the First Amendment. However, private employees, such as NBA and NFL players, must adhere to their company’s rules which may include limitations on free speech. There are currently no rules on keeling during the national anthem, but that may be subject to change.

Questions? We have answers. Contact (414) 882-8382 to learn more about your First Amendment rights.