Sunday, June 25, 2006

On public employee free speech

Not so long ago, I wrote about the Fourth Circuit's decision in the Marshall University football case, where the plaintiff was a fellow called Ridpath. The Ridpath case intrigued me in part because of its reference to "the McVey rule," citing the first appeals court opinion from the case we litigated some years ago.

At the end of May, the Supreme Court's ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos puts the boot to the McVey rule, by my reckoning. All the public employee speech cases I've litigated would have been affected by the rule from the Garcetti case, including McVey. In Garcetti, the Court held that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties,they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes,and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.

It is ironic that the employer in this case is that fellow Garcetti, whose office botched the O.J. Simpson case, about which so many public employees have said and written so much.

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