The Supreme Court and the Deconstitutionalization of the Freedom of Speech Rights of Public Employees

Source: Robert Roberts, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27, No. 2, June 2007
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In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit a public employer from disciplining a public employee for the contents of an official memorandum made in the course of the performance of official duties, even if a federal court finds that the contents of the memorandum involved a matter of “public concern.” This article argues that the Garcetti decision modifies the Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) and Connick v. Myers (1983) two-part test by requiring federal courts to first determine whether or not the public official made a communication in the course of the performance of official duties. The article also argues that it remains to be seen whether the Garcetti decision will have a significant impact on the willingness of public employees to make use of official channels to raise legitimate concerns over actions taken or not taken by their organizations.

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