Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday called on television network A&E to return Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to his television show, citing “free speech” and “religious liberty” rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“Free speech matters,” Cruz wrote. “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson. Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job.”
“In a free society, anyone is free to disagree with him–but the mainstream media should not behave as the thought police censoring the views with which they disagree,” he continued. “And, as PC enforcers often forget, tolerance is a two-way street.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) also lashed out at A&E in a statement.
“The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with,” Jindal said. “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”
“It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
As Slate’s Matthew Yglesias pointed out on Thursday, the First Amendment right guarantees freedom of speech, but it does not guarantee employment as a reality TV star.
“The only relevant First Amendment issue here is that A&E has a constitutional right to make its own decisions about what kind of programming it wants to air,” Yglesias noted. “The First Amendment very much does not prevent private firms from declining to air certain kinds of content that they think will alienate their audience, or private citizens from engaging in organized criticism of private broadcasters who don’t bend to their will.”