San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Roy Moore falsely claims kneeling protests are ‘against the law’

When Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) formally endorsed Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy in Alabama this week, the ostensibly libertarian Republican made a specific kind of pitch on Moore’s behalf. “We need more people in Washington, D.C., that will stand on principle and defend the Constitution,” the senator said.

At face value, this was plainly ridiculous in light of Moore’s brazenly unconstitutional beliefs, but Rand Paul’s endorsement looked just a little worse yesterday when Time magazine published this piece.

Senate candidate Roy Moore believes that professional athletes who take a knee during the national anthem are breaking the law.

In an interview with TIME magazine, the Alabama Republican argued that NFL players and others who have protested police violence are violating a section of the U.S. code which outlines how people should conduct themselves when the anthem is played. (The code merely outlines proper etiquette, and there are no legal penalties outlined in the law.)

“It’s against the law, you know that?” he said. “It was an act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”

No, it’s not. There is no such law. In fact, if Congress tried to pass such a law, it’d be unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court precedent. As one justice famously wrote, ”[T]hose who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.”

Have I mentioned that Roy Moore has spent much of his adult life as a judge – albeit a judge who was twice removed from the bench for ethics violations? Presumably he’d have some basic familiarity with the idea of state-imposed exercises in patriotism.

In his Time interview, the Alabaman added, “If we don’t respect the law, what kind of country are we going to have?”

Perhaps the better question is, if we elect senators who don’t understand what the law is, what kind of country are we going to have?

As for Rand Paul, the next time the Kentucky Republican boasts of his libertarian constitutional ideals, perhaps someone can remind him about his endorsement of Roy Moore and his radical, authoritarian-style approach to the law.