Nature v. patriotism
It was during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium on a hot August day in 2008. As was the custom since Sept. 11, 2001, “God Bless America” was played. A little known rule prohibited movement in the stands by anyone until the song ended.
29-year-old Bradford Campeau-Laurion left his seat to go to the restroom. He was stopped by a New York City police officer and told to stay put until the song was over. When Bradford objected he was immediately ejected from the stadium. Two officers pinned his arms behind his back and “shoved me out the front gate.”
Bradford filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming a violation of his right to free speech. Requiring him to stand and not move while a patriotic song is playing violates the Constitution, the lawsuit alleged. Although not exactly ‘politically correct,’ a person may not be forced to conform to customs or rituals in a public setting.
In July, 2009, the parties reached an agreement whereby the City of New York would pay Bradford $10,000 and his legal fees of $12,000. The Yankees agreed that there was no rule restricting fans from moving about the stadium at any time they chose.