Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Does Shaq Have First Amendment Claim Against Phoenix Sheriff Who Took Away His Badge Over Kobe-Rap?
We've blogged before about Shaq's amusing part-time role as a volunteer reserve sheriff (see my post here and Mike's post here). After moving from Miami to Phoenix as part of the "worst trade ever", Deputy Diesel resumed his part-time law enforcement career with the Maricopa County Sheriff.
The Sheriff was not pleased, however, with Shaq's recent "freestyle" Kobe-dis, which aired yesterday on the web site TMZ (warning: mildly unsafe for work). In the profanity-laden performance, Shaq uses a racial epithet, accuses Kobe of ruining his marriage and opines that Kobe could not win a championship without him.
Sheriff Arpaio has now asked Shaq to turn in his badges. "[I]f any one of my deputies did something like this, they're fired," explained the Sheriff.
Could Shaq challenge his termination based on his First Amendment right to free speech? Interestingly, Arizona has recently produced some cases in which law enforcement officers challenged their terminations on free speech grounds. In Dible v. City of Chandler, the Ninth Circuit upheld the termination of a law enforcement officer who participated in his wife's pornographic photo business. The Court opined that his "speech" did not involve a matter of public concern, and therefore was not protected by the First Amendment.
While much of Shaq's rap clearly involved private matters, and his termination resulted more from the terms he used than the content of his expression, what about his assertion that Kobe couldn't win a championship without him? A matter of public concern or importance?
-- Posted by Geoffrey Rapp @ Comments (4) -- Post a Comment 6/24/2008 05:30:00 PM --