Supreme CourtOn April 26, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a public agency can incur liability for a First Amendment violation if it demotes or disciplines one of its employee based on the agency’s mistaken belief that the employee has exercised a right of free expression.  The Court’s decision in Heffernan v. City of Paterson

US Supreme CourtAn unprecedented number of protests – at educational institutions and in city streets – occurred nationwide last year, and protests continue to serve as focal points for public attention and debate going into 2016.  The legal realm concerning free speech is in a similar state of turbulence for public employers and for educators.

Here are

globeAn officer in the City Police Department at which you are employed receives an award for commendable service.  The Police Chief posts an announcement and his praise of the officer on the Police Department’s Facebook page.  In the midst of the congratulatory posts from the public, two citizens post comments sharply criticizing the Department.  You

Santa_Monica_Beach_with_pier_4Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a Santa Monica City ordinance which prohibited unattended exhibits in Palisades Park, among them displays of the Nativity Scene, erected annually by the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee.  The Court found that the City’s ordinance was a valid content-neutral time, place, and

globeTuesday’s post discussed four important issues in First Amendment law which will involve the Supreme Court and other courts deciding fairly traditional, “earth bound” questions of free speech.  Today’s post explores more unusual challenges facing the courts in 2015.

1. Individuals’ Speech on Facebook:

Does the First Amendment protect an individual who makes menacing and

constitution_against_flagPart I

The year 2015 will likely be a stand-out year for new developments in First Amendment law.  The end of this year has seen free speech at the top of the news on a near-daily basis.  Protests of police department practices, sparked by events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, swept the country

Breaking-News1.jpgOn Thursday, June 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in Lane v. Franks held that the First Amendment protects a public employee who provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by subpoena, outside the scope of his or her ordinary job responsibilities.  In so holding, the Court overturned precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the

LockersMany student discipline matters in public schools involve speech, be it joking threats by the student, outrageous bullying on social media, epithets or hate speech, or clothing containing messages or symbols that violate school rules.  Because they involve speech, these discipline cases can raise substantial First Amendment concerns.

Some view student speech as less valuable