On Oct. 20, 2017, state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Agoura Hills, announced his strong support for our First Amendment rights, and that “California should be a sanctuary for free speech.”
Seeing any politician, Republican or Democrat, throw support behind our civil liberties – and against any attempt to promote legislative tampering with our “God-given” rights – will always get my vocal support. Unfortunately, when reading his statement and not just a printed headline, Stern demonstrated his purported support for the First Amendment is both flawed and troubling.
Stern stated, “President Trump’s most recent attempt to pressure NFL owners to fire players for exercising their free speech rights while at work … is just one of many troubling attacks on the First Amendment in the last few months.” The Bill of Rights was meant to protect the people from being persecuted by their government because certain liberties are inalienable and transcend government control.
President Trump can tweet whatever he wants, but he cannot call on the government to force the NFL to take action against protesting players. He can even bully the NFL if he wants with his words, but executing any legal retaliation simply cannot be done!
Colin Kaepernick, however, is now dealing with the consequences of his actions, not from the government, but from the public. The fan base has shown its distaste for his actions by simply not supporting the league.
Viewership is dropping, ticket sales are down, and the result of Kaepernick and others demonstrating their right to free speech is snowballing into the fans exercising their rights by refusing to support them.
Sen. Stern goes on to say he “will be introducing legislation to deter employer retribution or retaliation against employees working in California for exercising their free speech rights.” Think about that: If you decide to go out and exercise your free speech rights that your employer finds offensive or damaging to his or her business, is the senator really saying that employers should have no recourse?
When did we start believing companies are on the same playing field as our government? If that were the case, companies could force the people to buy products (health care) invest in their retirement programs (Medicare and Social Security) and even pay them to provide their services (taxes).
The Supreme Court has held that if a company expresses an opinion or belief, then said expression falls within the realm of protected speech under the First Amendment. The people, however, absolutely can take their business elsewhere and espouse to the world why no one should frequent those companies.
Sen. Stern later says the Constitution “does not limit speech based on value judgments so long as it doesn’t harm others.” Well, any observer will tell you what Kaepernick did has, in fact, harmed the NFL and has led to further decline of the league’s financial standings.
Finally, Stern makes a very strong declaration that I support, “The Constitution trumps Trump.” I would even elaborate further and say the Constitution trumps all government meddling, including state government where the Tenth Amendment does not allow the intrusion.
Stern seems to forget there are other amendments in the Bill of Rights when he is casting his votes on the legislative floor for the people he represents. Most notable is the Second Amendment: Three bills that directly infringe on our rights were approved by the senator and most of his Democrat colleagues:
AB-7: Open carry (unloaded firearm) in public place or public street within unincorporated areas of a county is now illegal. For all intents and purposes, unless you are granted permission from your government, you are not allowed to publically exercise your Second Amendment rights in California.
AB-424: Deleted the authority of a school district superintendent to provide permission for a person to possess a firearm within a school zone.
AJR-24: Concealed Carry Reciprocity, urging Congress to not enact concealed carry reciprocity legislation, which would allow universal acceptance of concealed carry permits (similar to accepting driver licenses from other states).
While I am an ardent supporter of the Bill of Rights, I do understand many fear, dislike, or flat-out refuse to acknowledge the Second Amendment. When they voice their disdain under the protections of the First Amendment, I do not call on our government to silence them.
Yet in California, the continual disregard and legislative destruction that are taken upon our right to bear arms continues just as if the Bill of Rights means nothing.
So yes, “the Constitution trumps Trump,” but it’s supposed to trump Stern, too.
Jason Gibbs is a Santa Clarita resident and was a candidate for appointment to the Santa Clarita City Council earlier this year.