A former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player who refused to kneel in support of political protest in 2020 sued her coach for allegedly retaliating against her and forcing her off the team. On Dec. 2, a federal district judge denied the coach’s motion for summary judgment, advancing the case to trial.
Two years ago, Tommia Dean sued the university arguing that state and university officials conspired together to prevent cheerleaders from protesting at future games. In a settlement reached this fall, the Georgia Department of Administrative Services agreed to pay her $135,000.
In The First Amendment in the Trump Era, Timothy Zick catalogs and analyzes the various First Amendment conflicts that have occurred during the Trump presidency. It places these conflicts in historical context–as part of our current digitized and polarized era but also as part of a broader narrative concerning attacks on free speech and press. We must understand what is familiar in terms of the First Amendment concerns of the present era, but also what is distinctive about these concerns.
Symbolic speech as a form of protest, like taking a knee at a football game while others stand for the National Anthem, enjoys a long history in America. The NFL protests—players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem before NFL games—provides an extraordinary opportunity for teaching how the idea of speech has evolved beyond the spoken word to encompass artistic and symbolic speech.
Over the weekend, President Trump took aim at players who have more explicitly over the past year taken to kneeling, sitting or raising a fist during the playing of the National Anthem in order to bring awareness to racism and police brutality. In response to the President's tweets, NFL players in games across the country responded by kneeling or sitting out the national anthem. Debate bubbled over on social media over whether this was a fireable offense or freedom of expression.