Roy Moore: NFL players kneeling during anthem are breaking the law
© Greg Nash

Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore said Wednesday that NFL players and other athletes who take a knee during the national anthem in protest are violating a federal law.

In an interview with Time magazine, Moore said that NFL players are violating a section of federal law that establishes "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the national anthem, and details proper respectful conduct during its performance.

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"It’s against the law, you know that?" Moore said. "It was an act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law."

"If they didn’t have it in there, it would just be tradition. But this is law," he added. "If we disobey this, what else are we going to disobey?"

The law states that "members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and ... all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart."

While the law explains the proper procedure for respecting the anthem, it does not list any legal penalties for not following it.

Moore also said he agrees with President Trump, who sparked controversy last month when he called on NFL team owners to fire players who knelt or otherwise protested during the anthem.

"I back the president in upholding respect for the patriotism for our country, on two grounds," he said. "One, it’s respect for the law. If we don’t respect the law, what kind of country are we going to have? Two, it’s respect for those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice. I’m surprised that no one brought this up."