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MICHAEL LOTFI: Duck Commander Phil Robertson’s First Amendment Rights Violated?

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Michael Lotfihttp://brandfireconsulting.com
Michael Lotfi is a Persian-American political analyst and adviser living in Nashville, Tennessee. Lotfi is the founder and CEO of BrandFire Consulting LLC. The firm specializes in public and private technology centered brand development, lead generation, data aggregation, online fundraising, social media, advertising, content generation, public relations, constituency management systems, print and more. Lotfi is the former executive state director for the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center, a think-tank focused on restraining federal overreach. Lotfi graduated with top honors from Belmont University, a private Christian university located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Duck Commander Phil Robertson Suspended Indefinitely From A&E's Duck Dynasty
Duck Commander Phil Robertson Suspended Indefinitely From A&E’s Duck Dynasty

LOS ANGELES, December 19, 2013 — I recently published an article illustrating the events that have unfolded surrounding Duck Commander patriarch Phil Robertson‘s recent suspension from Duck Dynasty after an interview with GQ.

Many government officials and individuals have been issuing statements claiming that Robertson’s First Amendment rights were violated.

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Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stepped in to support Robertson. “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” wrote Palin on Facebook. Those who know me are well aware that I have a massive crush on Palin. However, she’s missed the mark here.

One reader left a comment that she was disappointed  with the article I wrote because I didn’t talk about the first amendment. “You can do better,” she said. Why should I talk about the First Amendment when it’s not even slightly applicable?

This commentary would be parallel to the Supreme Court laying out rules in landmark cases that have absolutely nothing to do with the case before them. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld the Supreme Court felt compelled to use their own commentary, as a means to legislate from the bench, ways the federal government could indefinitely detain US citizens. In dissent, Justice Scalia & Justice Stevens wrote that the Supreme Court’s ruling was extra-constitutional because the Court had no right to provide such commentary as rule of law to indefinitely detain citizens.

So, here’s the commentary outside of the news article –where it belongs:

First we must examine the groups making these claims. They are conservatives, and most conservatives claim to be free-market supporters. I am also a conservative (more so a “conservatarian”), but those making these claims are wrong, and they clearly do not understand the free-market.

When Chic-Fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy made anti-gay comments and donated to traditional marriage groups conservatives criticized liberals who protested Chic-Fil-A. “It’s a private business. Deal with it,” conservatives shouted. However, now the tables have turned. Today, conservatives are screaming, “First Amendment rights!” Meanwhile, from those same conservatives, hardly a trickle of non-bias commentary is provided, which is under the tone of being neutral, and in support of the free-market.

Do you support the free-market, or not? Either you believe in private enterprise, or you believe that laws should govern the market. No ambiguous middle ground can exist here. Why? When one violates the underlying principle of free-market capitalism in pursuance of supporting individual values, the principle of economic liberty, at this moment, is destroyed. Moving forward, all with differing values will pursue law and government intervention in order to achieve these values. This is the philosophical argument.

The lawful argument is simple. No one’s First Amendment rights were violated here. The Bill of Rights is applicable to laws passed by the federal government, and the federal government alone. The Bill of Rights was intended to keep the federal government from becoming too strong– not state governments and certainly not private businesses.

The Supreme Court has held multiple times that the Bill of Rights was not, and was never intended to be incorporated to the individual states by means of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Adamson v. California Justice Frankfurter wrote that the idea of incorporation would, “tear up by the roots much of the fabric of law in the several States, and would deprive the States of opportunity for reforms in legal process designed for extending the area of freedom.”

Either you support a limited federal government, or you do not. We already know that the Bill of Rights is applicable only to federal law and not state law. If we know this as Constitutional truth then why would anyone make the argument that A&E, as a private business, violated Robertson’s First Amendment rights? There is no rule of law to give warrant to such claims.

Governor Jindal's Twitter Account
Governor Jindal’s Twitter Account

Governor Jindal (R-LA) took to Twitter with his First Amendment argument, and even paid to have the tweet promoted, which reads, “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment”. If Jindal doesn’t know that the First Amendment applies only to federal laws, not private enterprise, then I’m not sure how he believes he is a limited government, free-market kind of guy.

Other conservatives have argued A&E violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against religion, sex, national origin, etc. However, when a conservative business makes headlines for not hiring a gay individual many scream in dissent. Now the tables are turned and conservatives cite the Act in support.

Many parts of the Civil Rights Act are unconstitutional (violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments) and anti-capitalism. Conservatives are more than willing to agree with that unless an avenue to spread their values becomes available through the Act. Saying parts of the Civil Rights Act are unconstitutional immediately labels you as a racist. I would remind those who would label me racist to recall that not too long ago the federal government stepped outside of its constitutionally delegated authority to label a black man a piece of property and not a human (Dred Scott v. Sandford). This same man, or piece of property, as the federal government labeled him, was provided refuge by state governments, but the feds weren’t having it. The United States federal government is the most racist entity in the world, but that’s another story. Furthermore, A&E and the Robertson family are in a private contract. This means that most likely they are not direct employees of A&E, but independent contractors.

With regards to free-speech, until you are willing to fight till your death to defend someone’s right to say something that you, as an individual, disagree with in every fiber of your soul — you do not support free-speech. If you do not fight this fight then you only support free-speech when it is speech you agree with, which is certainly not free-speech at all. This goes for those who support and oppose Robertson.

I support the Robertson family and everything they stand for. However, I certainly do not support the claims that their rights were somehow violated. In fact, I believe that, as a free-market success story, they’d probably agree with my sentiment.

I would argue that if you are truly upset with A&E do not look to unconstitutional laws, or the federal government for resolution. Look to the market. Chic-Fil-A brought in record earnings after they were attacked by the left. Many who watch Duck Dynasty are of the conservative, tea party, libertarian fabric, so simply turn off your TV and A&E will suffer greatly.

(OPINION) Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter: @MichaelLotfi

 

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