A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Supreme Court expands First Amendment protections for public employees

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [official website] unanimously Thursday in Lane v. Franks [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that a public employee's sworn testimony outside the scope of his ordinary job duties is entitled to First Amendment [text] protection. Edward Lane was fired from his job at Central Alabama Community College (CACC) after he determined that an elected official was on the payroll but was not doing any work and testified against her in the ensuing investigation. He sued CACC president Steve Franks in his individual and official capacities for violating his First Amendment rights by firing him in retaliation for his testimony. The Supreme Court held that Lane's testimony was protected speech but that Franks was entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity. The court remanded the case for further proceedings.

The court heard arguments in the case in April after granting certiorari [JURIST reports] in January.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.