Supreme Court advocates do not always play to type. To wit, R. James George Jr., arguing Monday for specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag.
Not what you might expect from a man who started his legal career as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
When asked if he would have a license plate on his car honoring the Confederacy, George replies, “I would not generally do that.”
But George adds that he got involved in this case — and many others — because he is a staunch defender of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
“I’ve been dealing with First Amendment issues most of my career,” he says. “And I believe these people are entitled to have their say just like other people are entitled to have their say.”
George has represented an array of clients in speech-related cases, from large media companies to prominent television personalities. And more than a few of those cases were “ripped from the headlines.”
George defended rapper Tupac Shakur in a suit during the 1990s alleging that the rapper’s lyrics on his album 2Pacalypse were so provocative that they caused the shooting of a Texas state trooper.
He also defended television host Phil Donahue in an invasion-of-privacy suit involving a show about incest. George was successful in persuading a Texas court that “a person’s right to make public the most private details of their own life,” even when that information reveals painful intimacies of other persons, is protected by the First Amendment.