A&E, the television network that airs the embattled “Duck Dynasty” reality show, “has produced more than a half dozen programs with the assistance of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office,” according to the Georgia county’s Sheriff Phil Miller. In retaliation against the network’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for making a series of deeply offensive remarks, A&E will no longer receive such assistance from Miller.
“A&E has suspended Phil Robertson for talking about his conservative Christian beliefs,” Miller claimed on his Facebook page, adding that he believes this “punishment” to be “unreasonable.” Though A&E has historically been able to rely on Miller’s office for assistance, “[t]hey will not do any more with my assistance while I am sheriff. It is time for someone other than Hollywood and the news media to stand up for what is right!”
It is not entirely clear exactly what kind of “assistance” Miller has provided the television network in the past, or what services he is now pledging to deny them in the future. To the extent that Miller is refusing to provide government services to A&E because he disagrees with the network’s broadly tolerant views, however, denying government services to the network would violate the First Amendment. Unlike A&E, which is a private company lawfully entitled to suspend or fire someone because they find the person’s views repulsive, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is a government agency bound by the First Amendment’s ban on viewpoint discrimination.0