Why A Diehard Packers Fan Wasn’t Able To Wear His Gear At Bears Pre-Game Warm Ups
Diehard Green Bay Packers fan Russell Beckman was prevented from showing his true colors on December 16 when the Packers took on the Chicago Bears. An order from a federal court, from only three days prior, denied Beckman’s motion to compel the Bears to allow him to wear Packers clothing at a premium pre-game experience. All Beckman wanted to be able to do was to show off his Packers pride on the field during warmups.
Beckman’s motion had challenged the Bears’ rule that was used to ban his Packers gear from the event. He relied on the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, but did not prevail in this instance. That said, Beckman’s broader case against the Bears will continue.
The biggest hurdle for Beckman was proving a likelihood of success in the ability to show that the Bears are a state actor so that the First Amendment can apply. Private parties are immune from the protections and obligations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The court initially found that, because the Bears are organized as a limited liability corporation, they do not qualify as a state actor. Next, the court determined that there was not such a close nexus between the State and the challenged action that the challenged action may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.
Beckman tried to prove the nexus through a connection between the Bears and the Chicago Park District (CPD), which owns Soldier Field and leases it to the Bears. However, the court held that the CPD did not become involved, de facto, in the pre-game warmup experience that Beckman was attending and intending to come to with Packers gear on his body.
Despite losing his motion, Russell Beckman should take pride in the fact that the court said he has shown some likelihood of succeeding on the merits. Put another way, the court identified Beckman’s effort as making a “fairly modest showing” that he is likely to succeed in demonstrating that the Bears are a state actor. However, “some likelihood” and “fairly modest showing” did not meet the threshold required at this stage of the litigation in order to receive the injunction and the right to wear his Packers gear at the pre-game warmups for the December 16 game.