Septuagenarian Maryland Lawmaker Discovers First Amendment

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Mr. Burns. Photo: Maryland State Archives

Somehow, over the course of his 72-year existence and nearly 18-year stint in Maryland's House of Delegates, Democrat Emmett C. Burns had failed to grasp the concept of freedom of speech until just yesterday.

Burns made headlines last week after writing a letter to the owner of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, requesting that he order linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo to "cease and desist" his outspoken support for gay marriage, which will be on the ballot in Maryland this November. But after giving the matter some thought over the weekend for obviously the first time, Burns declared on Sunday that Ayanbadejo should feel free to talk about whatever he wants after all.

"Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights," Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a telephone interview. "And I have my First Amendment rights … Each of us has the right to speak our opinions. The football player and I have a right to speak our minds."

It's crazy the kind of arcane legal trivia you can find buried in the Constitution, right?