In a Letter to the Editor Senator Derrick T. Simmons calls the recent decision by the Public Safety Commission unconstitutional:
“As a state Senator and a private practice attorney, I agree with a September 28, 2018 article by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy published in The Clarion Ledger that says Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher’s decision to no longer purchase training equipment from Nike because of its ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick is unconstitutional. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, is known for starting the movement of players kneeling during the national anthem.
The Mississippi Center for Public Policy wrote, “MDPS commissioner made clear that his decision to initiate a government boycott was based on his personal objection to the speech made by Nike, saying: ‘As commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, I will not support vendors who do not support law enforcement and our military.’
I support the men and women of our military and law enforcement, but one of the protections they fought for is the Constitution and the First Amendment, which protects Nike and Kaepernick’s expressions, though many may not agree with how they protest.
While I do not always agree with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy on public policy issues, I wholeheartedly agree with it on this basic fundamental right.
Specifically, I agree with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy on the following points of the article.
- A government boycott of Nike is simply unconstitutional.
- A government boycott in retaliation for corporate speech also ignores Mississippi law establishing bidding requirements for most public purchases. We have those laws for a reason.
· A public official boycotting vendors with certain views implies that taxpayer money is their money, to reward or punish whom they see fit based on their own personal beliefs.