KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During the past two days there has been a lot of pressure on Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to resign.
The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch have called for it in their editorial pages, and several online petitions have garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
But those actions don’t force anything to happen, and right now, Hawley is just taking the criticism.
Hawley’s most forceful statement in the days following what happened at the U.S. Capitol was about his book deal falling through with his publisher.
On Twitter Thursday night, he wrote in part: “Let me be clear, this is not just a contract dispute. It’s a direct assault on the First Amendment. Only approved speech can now be published.”
Allen Rostron, a UMKC constitutional law professor, said there’s no legal basis for Hawley’s argument.
“A generous interpretation would be that he doesn’t mean it literally. That’s he’s just saying it’s not fair and it’s not the right thing for them to do. And he’s phrasing it in terms of the First Amendment just knowing that’s what people are familiar with,” Rostron said.
“A less charitable interpretation of it would be that he’s saying something that he knows is not true,” Rostron said.
Matt Harris, an assistant professor of political science at Park University, said Hawley’s response to the situation are calculated moves working toward a 2024 presidential campaign and election.
“A publishing company canceling a book deal is not a First Amendment issue, and he knows that. He went to Yale Law School,” Harris said.
Harris also said that his response to this specific issue follows similar strategies that President Donald Trump has used in the past.
“It’s ‘us versus the media.’ It’s ‘us versus the cancel culture.’ So I think it sort of feeds into a narrative that he’s trying to script,” Harris said.