A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that it is legal for bars to kick out anyone wearing a Make America Great Again hat. In a case that touched on bar rights, 9/11, President Donald Trump and religious representation, the red MAGA hats finally got their day in court.
The case goes back to January 2017. A Philadelphia accountant named Greg Piatek had just visited the 9/11 Memorial with friends and went to The Happiest Hour in New York’s West Village neighborhood. According to a lawsuit Piatek filed, he was told that, “Anyone who supports Trump—or believes in what you believe—is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!”
So Piatek sued. The New York Post reports that the lawsuit was filed because being kicked out “offended his sense of being American.” There are some protected identities over which a business can’t refuse service, including race and religion. But a political belief is not a protected identity, which was pointed out by The Happiest Hour’s attorney. Then, in a twist that sounds like a dark April Fool’s joke delivered weeks too late, Piatek’s attorney, Paul Liggieri, argued that the MAGA hat is part of Piatek’s spiritual beliefs.
“He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11,” Liggieri said, according to the Post. “The Make America Great Again hat was part of his spiritual belief.” When asked about the “spiritual program” that Piatek lives by, Liggieri said that Piatek is the only person who believes in it. The judge didn’t buy it.
“Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates,” Justice David Cohen responded. He dismissed the case and called it a “petty” slight, but a legal one. Being removed from The Happiest Hour “because of his perceived support for President Trump is not outrageous conduct,” Cohen said.
The owner of The Happiest Hour, Jon Neidich, gave Supercall a statement regarding the lawsuit and verdict:
"At the Happiest Hour we firmly support womens’ rights, marriage equality, gun control, the environment and regard for the truth—we don’t discriminate," Neidich said. "What's gotten lost in this story is that the guest wasn't kicked out because he was wearing a Trump hat—he was asked to leave after being verbally abusive to our staff, which is something we don't tolerate regardless of who you are. And this is after he spent almost $200. The 20% tip he left would seem to indicate he was satisfied with the service he received.”