Sessions: NFL Should Have 'Formal Rule' on National Anthem Protests

Phillip Cunningham
September 28, 2017

More than 30 Georgetown Law faculty members also signed a letter in which they acknowledge Sessions' right to be there but "condemn the hypocrisy of Attorney General Sessions speaking about free speech".

"Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack", Sessions said.

Oblivious to the irony, Sessions added that "in this great land, the government does not tell you what to think or what to say".

He argued the players were, in effect, "denigrating" symbols of the USA, and noted that while players wouldn't be subject to prosecution, they could expect condemnation for taking "provocative" actions.

In declaring free speech "under attack" on college campuses, Sessions dove into an issue that has become a cause celebre for conservatives who argue that their voices are being drowned out on college campuses, with speeches by rightist figures derailed by protests and threats of violence.

"Protesters are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to stop the forces that insufficiently conform to their views", Sessions said. "But it is transforming into ... a shelter for fragile egos".

"We, the disinvited, find it extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions would lecture future attorneys about the importance of free speech on campus while actively excluding the wider student body", the statement read.

While the attorney general said the problems concern all sides of the political spectrum, the case in which the Justice Department sought to intervene involved a Christian student who challenged Georgia Gwinnett College's "free speech zone" policy.

"They should be able to say to the players, 'If you're on our field, in our game, paid by us, you should respect the flag and the national anthem, '" Sessions told "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday.

Sessions spoke at the Georgetown University law school.

"A national recommitment to free speech on campus and to ensuring First Amendment rights is long overdue", Mr. Sessions said. They placed tape across their mouths and sat down. "In the wake of #TakeTheKnee, I find it not only disingenuous but nearly laughable that Attorney General Sessions or anyone from this administration could truthfully speak as an authority on protections of free speech".

During his remarks, Sessions blamed school administrators for favoring "heckler's disruptive tactics" over a speaker's First Amendment rights.

Sessions reminded students that these college campuses are - or should be - the very bastions of open and unfettered debate.

Sessions recalled a Middlebury College case in Vermont where student protesters physically assaulted debaters at a campus event, including an outside speaker and a professor.

"We are not protesting his free speech; our colleague had every right to invite him to speak".

GULC spokesperson Tanya Weinberg wrote in an email to The Hoya that it is up to event organizers to determine audience selection and questions.

"Attorney General Sessions is a key cabinet member in an administration headed by a president who spent last weekend denouncing athletes engaged in free expression and calling for them to be fired".

"We pay a ton of tuition", she said.

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