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Freedom of Suppression

By John Baglia on Sunday, October 1st, 2017

“In the end it is worse to suppress dissent than to run the risk of heresy.”
– Judge Billings Learned Hand

Over this past weekend, NFL players, coaches, and teams continued the highly-controversial protests sparked last season by Colin Kaepernick.[1] Throughout last season, Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem in protest of the injustices against racial minorities in the U.S.[2] A year later and Kaepernick is no longer playing on a NFL roster.[3] One could expect that the responses to Kaepernick’s protests, specifically his questionable unemployment, would dissuade current players from speaking up and joining in these protests. For the most part, this was not a topic of conversation during the first two weeks of the NFL season. That all changed, however, when President Trump addressed the topic in a speech on September 22, 2017.

In his speech, President Trump stated, “[w]ouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!’. . . .”[4] That has yet to happen, and at this point, with all eyes on the NFL, it’d be a surprise if it did. On the contrary, this weekend, in response to the President’s remarks, an overwhelming number of players, coaches, and even some owners kneeled before and during the National Anthem.[5] Some other stood with interlocked arms, instead of kneeling. But their message was clear.[6] In what seemed to be a symbol of solidarity, and maybe a direct response to President Trump’s speech, the NFL collectively stood up against suppressing our freedom of expression.

Regardless of your stance on the protests, all sides should agree with the values and rights promoted by the U.S. Constitution. One of those values is our freedom of expression. Any implication of those rights being eroded is a path we do not wish to travel as a society. Colin Kaepernick sparked a necessary conversation about many social issues in America. It is our duty as citizens, like the players and coaches in the NFL, to continue this conversation and stand up against all those that wish to silence it and ultimately ignore the issues.

For a more in depth analysis on what is at the core of these protests, check out:

Floyd D. Weatherspoon, Racial Profiling of African-American Males: Stopped, Searched, and Stripped of Constitutional Protection, 38 J. Marshall L. Rev. 439 (2004).

For more discussion on the First Amendment, see:

Matthew Slaughter, First Amendment Right to Record Police: When Clearly Established is Not Clear Enough, 49 J. Marshall L. Rev. 101 (2015); and Donald L. Beschle, The First Amendment in the Seventh Circuit: 2002, 36 J. Marshall L. Rev. 807 (2003).

For a discussion on censorship, read:

Brandon K. Lemley, Effectuating Censorship: Civic Republicanism and the Secondary Effects Doctrine, 35 J. Marshall L. Rev. 189 (2002).

[1] Des Bieler et al., ‘Trump Can’t Divide This’: Cowboys, Along With Owner Jerry Jones, Kneel Before Anthem in Arizona, Washington Post (Sept. 26, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/09/25/cowboys-players-take-a-knee-with-owner-jerry-jones-before-standing-for-anthem/?utm_term=.da19fe6cb5d8.

[2] Steve Wyche, Colin Kaepernick Explains Why He Sat During National Anthem, NFL Network (Aug. 27, 2016), http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000691077/article/colin-kaepernick-explains-why-he-sat-during-national-anthem.

[3] Mike Sando, NFL Execs, Coaches on Why Colin Kaepernick Remains Unsigned, ESPN (Aug. 23, 2017), http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20422146/nfl-execs-coaches-offer-insights-why-colin-kaepernick-remains-unsigned.

[4] Aric Jenkins, Read President Trump’s NFL Speech on National Anthem Protests, TIME (Sept. 23, 2017), http://time.com/4954684/donald-trump-nfl-speech-anthem-protests/.

[5] Bieler, supra note 1.

[6] Id.

President Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord

By John Baglia on Sunday, June 11th, 2017

On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement amongst 195 countries to reduce their climate changing emissions in an attempt to curb the increase in global temperatures.[1] When signing the agreement in 2016, President Obama aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% in a decade.[2] However, many fear Trump’s decision may bring that goal to an end. By withdrawing, the U.S. joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries worldwide that are not a part of the agreement.[3] While announcing his decision, President Trump stated, “[t]he Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,”[4] sparking immediate backlash. With climate change being an issue of global concern, what prompted this widely unpopular decision?

First, and possibly most controversial, President Trump has referred to climate change as a “hoax,” despite clear science to the contrary.[5] Second, Trump is openly skeptical of international agreements, like the Paris Accord, which he rejected as a defeat for America and its workers at the benefit of foreign countries.[6] Lastly, Trump believes the Obama administration’s regulations and spending in order to meet its goals of reducing GHG emissions will have a negative effect on economic growth.[7] This is highlighted by the fact that the newly appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a skeptic of climate change himself, is already halting the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.[8] The Clean Power Plan was President Obama’s strategy to reduce GHG emissions from fossil fuel power plants in the US.[9] Whatever his true motivation and reasoning, President Trump was adamant upon fulfilling his campaign promise to withdraw, despite pleading for him to remain a part of the agreement from members of his own administration, including his daughter Ivanka.[10]

Although the criticism of President Trump’s decision to withdraw has been immediate, it fortunately won’t conclude until November 2020, which all but guarantees this to be a major topic of debate in the next presidential election.[11] Also, despite the responses, Trump’s decision may not affect our economy, which is in the process of separating itself from carbon-heavy energy sources in favor of natural gas and cost-effective renewable energy.[12] Further, states like California and cities like Chicago have vowed to do their part by instituting their own environmental restrictions with similar goals to the Paris Accord.[13] Climate change is a worldwide issue and one man’s decision will not change the goal of millions.

For more information on Climate Change, check out Rachel Salcido’s article in the 2nd issue of our 49th volume at http://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2583&context=lawreview.

[1] Benjy Sarlin, What It Means That Trump Is Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, NBC News (June 1, 2017), http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/here-s-what-happens-if-trump-leaves-paris-climate-agreement-n766761.

[2] Rebecca Harrington, Here’s what the US actually agreed to in the Paris climate deal, Business Insider (June 1, 2017), http://www.businessinsider.com/what-did-us-agree-to-paris-climate-deal-2017-5.

[3] Harrington, supra note 2

[4] Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta, Trump on Paris accord: ‘We’re getting out’, CNN Politics (June 2, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/01/politics/trump-paris-climate-decision/index.html.

[5] See Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Jan. 29, 2014,1:27 AM), http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/03/hillary-clinton/yes-donald-trump-did-call-climate-change-chinese-h/ (stating “[g]lobal warming is an expensive hoax”); see Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Nov. 6, 2012, 2:15 PM), http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/03/hillary-clinton/yes-donald-trump-did-call-climate-change-chinese-h/ (stating “[t]he concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”).

[6] Liptak and Acosta, supra note 4.

[7] Sarlin, supra note 1.

[8] Id.

[9] Thomas Skelton, At What Costs? Environmental Regulations and Cost-Benefit Analysis in Michigan v. EPA, 49 J. Marshall L. Rev. 1257, 1283 (2016).

[10] Liptak and Acosta, supra note 4.

[11] Id.

[12] Sarlin, supra note 1.

[13] Id.

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