January 9, 2021
This is not a political blog, but there are times when politics overlaps with the law, and that’s when I can chime in.
Case in point: Missouri Senator Josh Hawley recently learned that Simon & Schuster has decided not to publish his book, following his conduct on Wednesday as the Electoral College votes were being certified. Hawley — who is, apparently, a graduate of Yale Law School, and should know better — called Simon & Schuster’s decision “Orwellian” and “a direct assault on the First Amendment.”
Look, I am as close to a First Amendment absolutist as there is, but Hawley isn’t even close. The First Amendment does not prohibit a publisher from refusing to publish your book. It prohibits the government from regulating speech (except in some very narrow circumstances).
Perhaps Hawley has a claim for a contractual violation (though, for all I know, the contract may give Simon & Schuster an out through some sort of morals clause).
But a First Amendment violation? By a private entity? Oh puleeeeze.