[Eugene Volokh] No, Government Boycotts of Nike Aren't Constitutional

The government may not discriminate against businesses because of the political views the business (or its spokesman) has expressed.GoLocalProv News reports that the town council of a Providence-area town "voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution Monday night requesting the town and school department refrain from purchasing Nike products, after Colin Kaepernick became the recent face of the company." But any such boycott by the town and the schools would violate the First Amendment, just as Denver Airport's refusing to rent space to Chick-fil-A because of its executives' anti-same-sex-marriage stand would have done the same. (Ultimately, the Chick-fil-A seems to have been approved.) As the Supreme Court held, by a 7-2 vote, in Board of Comm'rs v. Umbehr (1996),"the First Amendment protects independent contractors from the termination of at-will government contracts in retaliation for their exercise of the freedom of speech." And while the Umbehr…

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