|Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois
100 U.S. 1
868 F.2d 943 (CA7 1989), affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
[ Brennan ]
[ Stevens ]
[ Scalia ]
Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT
Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
To the victor belong only those spoils that may be constitutionally obtained. Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976), and Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. 507 (1980), decided that the First Amendment forbids government officials to discharge or threaten to discharge public employees solely for not being supporters of the political party in power, unless party affiliation is an appropriate requirement for the position involved. [p65] Today we are asked to decide the constitutionality of several related political patronage practices -- whether promotion, transfer, recall, and hiring decisions involving low-level public employees may be constitutionally based on party affiliation and support. We hold that they may not.
The petition and cross-petition before us arise from a lawsuit protesting certain employment policies and practices instituted by Governor James Thompson of Illinois. [n1] On November 12, 1980, the Governor issued an executive order proclaiming a hiring freeze for every agency, bureau, board, or commission subject to his control. The order prohibits state officials from hiring any employee, filling any vacancy, creating any new position, or taking any similar action. It affects approximately 60,000 state positions. More than 5,000 of these become available each year as a result of resignations, retirements, deaths, expansion, and reorganizations. The order proclaims that "no exceptions" are permitted without the Governor's "express permission after submission of appropriate requests to [his] office." Governor's Executive Order No. 5 (Nov. 12, 1980), Brief for Petitioners 11 (emphasis added). [p66]
Requests for the Governor's "express permission" have allegedly become routine. Permission has been granted or withheld through an agency expressly created for this purpose, the Governor's Office of Personnel (Governor's Office). Agencies have been screening applicants under Illinois' civil service system, making their personnel choices, and submitting them as requests to be approved or disapproved by the Governor's Office. Among the employment decisions for which approvals have been required are new hires, promotions, transfers, and recalls after layoffs.
By means of the freeze, according to petitioners, the Governor has been using the Governor's Office to operate a political patronage system to limit state employment and beneficial employment-related decisions to those who are supported by the Republican Party. In reviewing an agency's request that a particular applicant be approved for a particular position, the Governor's Office has looked at whether the applicant voted in Republican primaries in past election years, whether the applicant has provided financial or other support to the Republican Party and its candidates, whether the applicant has promised to join and work for the Republican Party in the future, and whether the applicant has the support of Republican Party officials at state or local levels.
Five people (including the three petitioners) brought suit against various Illinois and Republican Party officials in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. [n2] They alleged that they had suffered discrimination with respect to state employment because they had not been supporters of the State's Republican Party and that this discrimination violates the First Amendment. Cynthia B. [p67] Rutan has been working for the State since 1974 as a rehabilitation counselor. She claims that, since 1981, she has been repeatedly denied promotions to supervisory positions for which she was qualified because she had not worked for or supported the Republican Party. Franklin Taylor, who operates road equipment for the Illinois Department of Transportation, claims that he was denied a promotion in 1983 because he did not have the support of the local Republican Party. Taylor also maintains that he was denied a transfer to an office nearer to his home because of opposition from the Republican Party chairmen in the counties in which he worked and to which he requested a transfer. James W. Moore claims that he has been repeatedly denied state employment as a prison guard because he did not have the support of Republican Party officials.
The two other plaintiffs, before the Court as cross-respondents, allege that they were not recalled after layoffs because they lacked Republican credentials. Ricky Standefer was a state garage worker who claims that he was not recalled, although his fellow employees were, because he had voted in a Democratic primary and did not have the support of the Republican Party. Dan O'Brien, formerly a dietary manager with the mental health department, contends that he was not recalled after a layoff because of his party affiliation, and that he later obtained a lower-paying position with the corrections department only after receiving support from the chairman of the local Republican Party.
The District Court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. 641 F.Supp. 249 (CD Ill.1986). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit initially issued a panel opinion, 848 F.2d 1396 (1988), but then reheard the appeal en banc. The court affirmed the District Court's decision in part and reversed in part. 868 F.2d 943 (1989). Noting that this Court had previously determined that the patronage practice of discharging [p68] public employees on the basis of their political affiliation violates the First Amendment, the Court of Appeals held that other patronage practices violate the First Amendment only when they are the "substantial equivalent of a dismissal." Id. at 954. The court explained that an employment decision is equivalent to a dismissal when it is one that would lead a reasonable person to resign. Id. at 955. The court affirmed the dismissal of Moore's claim because it found that basing hiring decisions on political affiliation does not violate the First Amendment, but remanded the remaining claims for further proceedings. [n3]
Rutan, Taylor, and Moore petitioned this Court to review the constitutional standard set forth by the Seventh Circuit and the dismissal of Moore's claim. Respondents cross-petitioned this Court, contending that the Seventh Circuit's remand of four of the five claims was improper because the employment decisions alleged here do not, as a matter of law, violate the First Amendment. We granted certiorari, 493 U.S. 807 (1989), to decide the important question whether the First Amendment's proscription of patronage dismissals recognized in Elrod, 427 U.S. 347 (1976), and Branti, 445 U.S. 507 (1980), extends to promotion, transfer, recall, or hiring decisions involving public employment positions for which party affiliation is not an appropriate requirement.
In Elrod, supra, we decided that a newly elected Democratic sheriff could not constitutionally engage in the patronage practice of replacing certain office staff with members of [p69] his own party "when the existing employees lack or fail to obtain requisite support from, or fail to affiliate with, that party." Id., 427 U.S. at 351, and 373 (plurality opinion) and 375 (Stewart, J., with BLACKMUN, J., concurring in judgment). The plurality explained that conditioning public employment on the provision of support for the favored political party "unquestionably inhibits protected belief and association." Id. at 359. It reasoned that conditioning employment on political activity pressures employees to pledge political allegiance to a party with which they prefer not to associate, to work for the election of political candidates they do not support, and to contribute money to be used to further policies with which they do not agree. The latter, the plurality noted, had been recognized by this Court as "tantamount to coerced belief." Id., 427 U.S. at 355 (citing Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 19 (1976)). At the same time, employees are constrained from joining, working for or contributing to the political party and candidates of their own choice. Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 355-356. "[P]olitical belief and association constitute the core of those activities protected by the First Amendment," the plurality emphasized. 427 U.S. at 356. Both the plurality and the concurrence drew support from Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972), in which this Court held that the State's refusal to renew a teacher's contract because he had been publicly critical of its policies imposed an unconstitutional condition on the receipt of a public benefit. See Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 359 (plurality opinion) and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment); see also Branti, supra, 445 U.S. at 514-516.
The Court then decided that the government interests generally asserted in support of patronage fail to justify this burden on First Amendment rights because patronage dismissals are not the least restrictive means for fostering those interests. See Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 372-373 (plurality opinion) and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment). The plurality acknowledged that a government has a significant interest in ensuring that it has effective and efficient employees. It expressed [p70] doubt, however, that "mere difference of political persuasion motivates poor performance," and concluded that, in any case, the government can ensure employee effectiveness and efficiency through the less drastic means of discharging staff members whose work is inadequate. 427 U.S. at 365-366. The plurality also found that a government can meet its need for politically loyal employees to implement its policies by the less intrusive measure of dismissing, on political grounds, only those employees in policymaking positions. Id. at 367. Finally, although the plurality recognized that preservation of the democratic process "may in some instances justify limitations on First Amendment freedoms," it concluded that the "process functions as well without the practice, perhaps even better." Patronage, it explained, "can result in the entrenchment of one or a few parties to the exclusion of others," and
is a very effective impediment to the associational and speech freedoms which are essential to a meaningful system of democratic government.
Four years later, in Branti, supra, we decided that the First Amendment prohibited a newly appointed public defender, who was a Democrat, from discharging assistant public defenders because they did not have the support of the Democratic Party. The Court rejected an attempt to distinguish the case from Elrod, deciding that it was immaterial whether the public defender had attempted to coerce employees to change political parties or had only dismissed them on the basis of their private political beliefs. We explained that conditioning continued public employment on an employee's having obtained support from a particular political party violates the First Amendment because of "the coercion of belief that necessarily flows from the knowledge that one must have a sponsor in the dominant party in order to retain one's job." 445 U.S. at 516. "In sum," we said,
there is no requirement that dismissed employees prove that they, or other employees, have been coerced into changing, either actually or ostensibly, their political allegiance.
Id. at 517. To prevail, we concluded, public employees need show only that they were discharged because they were not affiliated with or sponsored by the Democratic Party. Ibid. [n5]
We first address the claims of the four current or former employees. Respondents urge us to view Elrod and Branti [p72] as inapplicable because the patronage dismissals at issue in those cases are different in kind from failure to promote, failure to transfer, and failure to recall after layoff. Respondents initially contend that the employee petitioners' First Amendment rights have not been infringed, because they have no entitlement to promotion, transfer, or rehire. We rejected just such an argument in Elrod, 427 U.S. at 359-360 (plurality opinion) and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment), and Branti, 445 U.S. at 514-515, as both cases involved state workers who were employees at will, with no legal entitlement to continued employment. In Perry, 408 U.S. at 596-598, we held explicitly that the plaintiff teacher's lack of a contractual or tenure right to reemployment was immaterial to his First Amendment claim. We explained the viability of his First Amendment claim as follows:
For at least a quarter-century, this Court has made clear that, even though a person has no "right" to a valuable governmental benefit, and even though the government may deny him the benefit for any number of reasons, there are some reasons upon which the government may not rely. It may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interests -- especially, his interest in freedom of speech. For if the government could deny a benefit to a person because of his constitutionally protected speech or associations, his exercise of those freedoms would in effect be penalized and inhibited. This would allow the government to "produce a result which [it] could not command directly." Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 526. Such interference with constitutional rights is impermissible.
Perry, id., 408 U.S. at 597 (emphasis added).
Likewise, we find the assertion here that the employee petitioners had no legal entitlement to promotion, transfer, or recall beside the point. [p73]
Respondents next argue that the employment decisions at issue here do not violate the First Amendment because the decisions are not punitive, do not in any way adversely affect the terms of employment, and therefore do not chill the exercise of protected belief and association by public employees. [n6] This is not credible. Employees who find themselves in dead-end positions due to their political backgrounds are adversely affected. They will feel a significant obligation to support political positions held by their superiors, and to refrain from acting on the political views they actually hold, in order to progress up the career ladder. Employees denied transfers to workplaces reasonably close to their homes until they join and work for the Republican Party will feel a daily pressure from their long commutes to do so. And employees who have been laid off may well feel compelled to engage in whatever political activity is necessary to regain regular paychecks and positions corresponding to their skill and experience. [n7] [p74]
The same First Amendment concerns that underlay our decisions in Elrod, supra, and Branti, supra, are implicated here. Employees who do not compromise their beliefs stand to lose the considerable increases in pay and job satisfaction attendant to promotions, the hours and maintenance expenses that are consumed by long daily commutes, and even their jobs if they are not rehired after a "temporary" layoff. These are significant penalties, and are imposed for the exercise of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unless these patronage practices are narrowly tailored to further vital government interests, we must conclude that they impermissibly encroach on First Amendment freedoms. See Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 362-363 (plurality opinion) and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment); Branti, supra, 445 U.S. at 515-516.
We find, however, that our conclusions in Elrod, supra, and Branti, supra, are equally applicable to the patronage practices at issue here. A government's interest in securing effective employees can be met by discharging, demoting or transferring staff members whose work is deficient. A government's interest in securing employees who will loyally implement its policies can be adequately served by choosing or dismissing certain high-level employees on the basis of their political views. See Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 365-368; Branti, supra, 445 U.S. at 518, and 9445 U.S. 520520, n. 14. Likewise, the "preservation of the democratic process" is no more furthered by the patronage promotions, transfers, and rehires at issue here than it is by patronage dismissals. First, "political parties are nurtured by other less intrusive and equally effective methods." Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 372-373. Political parties have already survived the substantial decline in patronage employment practices in this century. See Elrod, 427 U.S. at 369, and n. 23; see also L. Sabato, Goodbye to Good-time Charlie 67 (2d ed. 1983) ("The number of patronage positions has significantly decreased in virtually every state"); Congressional Quarterly Inc., State Government, [p75] CQ's Guide to Current Issues and Activities 134 (T. Beyle ed. 1989-1990) ("Linkage[s] between political parties and government office-holding . . . have died out under the pressures of varying forces [including] the declining influence of election workers when compared to media and money-intensive campaigning, such as the distribution of form letters and advertising"); Sorauf, Patronage and Party, 3 Midwest J.Pol.Sci. 115, 118-120 (1959) (many state and local parties have thrived without a patronage system). Second, patronage decidedly impairs the elective process by discouraging free political expression by public employees. See Elrod, 427 U.S. at 372 (explaining that the proper functioning of a democratic system "is indispensably dependent on the unfettered judgment of each citizen on matters of political concern"). Respondents, who include the Governor of Illinois and other state officials, do not suggest any other overriding government interest in favoring Republican Party supporters for promotion, transfer, and rehire.
We therefore determine that promotions, transfers, and recalls after layoffs based on political affiliation or support are an impermissible infringement on the First Amendment rights of public employees. In doing so, we reject the Seventh Circuit's view of the appropriate constitutional standard by which to measure alleged patronage practices in government employment. The Seventh Circuit proposed that only those employment decisions that are the "substantial equivalent of a dismissal" violate a public employee's rights under the First Amendment. 868 F.2d at 954-957. We find this test unduly restrictive, because it fails to recognize that there are deprivations less harsh than dismissal that nevertheless press state employees and applicants to conform their beliefs and associations to some state-selected orthodoxy. See Elrod, supra, 427 U.S. at 356-357 (plurality opinion); West Virginia Bd. of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943). [n8] [p76] The First Amendment is not a tenure provision, protecting public employees from actual or constructive discharge. The First Amendment prevents the government, except in the most compelling circumstances, from wielding its power to interfere with its employees' freedom to believe and associate, or to not believe and not associate.
Whether the four employees were in fact denied promotions, transfers, or rehire for failure to affiliate with and support the Republican Party is for the District Court to decide in the first instance. What we decide today is that such denials are irreconcilable with the Constitution, and that the allegations of the four employees state claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982 ed.) for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore, although we affirm the Seventh Circuit's judgment to reverse the District Court's dismissal of these claims and remand them for further proceedings, we do not adopt the Seventh Circuit's reasoning.
Petitioner James W. Moore presents the closely related question whether patronage hiring violates the First Amendment. [p77] Patronage hiring places burdens on free speech and association similar to those imposed by the patronage practices discussed above. A state job is valuable. Like most employment, it provides regular paychecks, health insurance, and other benefits. In addition, there may be openings with the State when business in the private sector is slow. There are also occupations for which the government is a major (or the only) source of employment, such as social workers, elementary school teachers, and prison guards. Thus, denial of a state job is a serious privation.
Nonetheless, respondents contend that the burden imposed is not of constitutional magnitude. [n9] Decades of decisions by this Court belie such a claim. We premised Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), on our understanding that loss of a job opportunity for failure to compromise one's convictions states a constitutional claim. We held that Maryland could not refuse an appointee a commission for the position of notary public on the ground that he refused to declare his belief in God, because the required oath "unconstitutionally invades the appellant's freedom of belief and religion." Id. at 496. In Keyishian v. Board of Regents of Univ. of New York, 385 U.S. 589, 609-610 (1967), we held a law affecting appointment and retention of teachers invalid because it premised employment on an unconstitutional restriction of political belief and association. In Elfbrandt v. Russell, 384 U.S. 11, 19 (1966), we struck down a loyalty oath which was a prerequisite for public employment.
Almost half a century ago, this Court made clear that the government "may not enact a regulation providing that no Republican . . . shall be appointed to federal office." Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75, 100 (1947). What the [p78] First Amendment precludes the government from commanding directly, it also precludes the government from accomplishing indirectly. See Perry, 408 U.S. at 597 (citing Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 526 (1958)); see supra, at 72. Under our sustained precedent, conditioning hiring decisions on political belief and association plainly constitutes an unconstitutional condition, unless the government has a vital interest in doing so. See Elrod, 427 U.S. at 362-363 (plurality opinion), and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment); Branti, 445 U.S. at 515-516,; see also Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) (unemployment benefits); Speiser v. Randall, supra, (tax exemption). We find no such government interest here, for the same reasons that we found the government lacks justification for patronage promotions, transfers or recalls. See supra at 71-76.
The court below, having decided that the appropriate inquiry in patronage cases is whether the employment decision at issue is the substantial equivalent of a dismissal, affirmed the trial court's dismissal of Moore's claim. See 868 F.2d at 954. The Court of Appeals reasoned that "rejecting an employment application does not impose a hardship upon an employee comparable to the loss of [a] job." Ibid., citing Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Education, 476 U.S. 267 (1986) (plurality opinion). Just as we reject the Seventh Circuit's proffered test, see supra at 75-76, we find the Seventh Circuit's reliance on Wygant to distinguish hiring from dismissal unavailing. The court cited a passage from the plurality opinion in Wygant explaining that school boards attempting to redress past discrimination must choose methods that broadly distribute the disadvantages imposed by affirmative action plans among innocent parties. The plurality said that race-based layoffs placed too great a burden on individual members of the nonminority race, but suggested that discriminatory hiring was permissible, under certain circumstances, even though it burdened white applicants because the burden was less intrusive than the loss of an existing job. [p79] Id. at 282-284. See also id. at 294-295 (WHITE, J., concurring in judgment).
Wygant has no application to the question at issue here. The plurality's concern in that case was identifying the least harsh means of remedying past wrongs. It did not question that some remedy was permissible when there was sufficient evidence of past discrimination. In contrast, the Governor of Illinois has not instituted a remedial undertaking. It is unnecessary here to consider whether not being hired is less burdensome than being discharged, because the government is not pressed to do either on the basis of political affiliation. The question in the patronage context is not which penalty is more acute, but whether the government, without sufficient justification, is pressuring employees to discontinue the free exercise of their First Amendment rights.
If Moore's employment application was set aside because he chose not to support the Republican Party, as he asserts, then Moore's First Amendment rights have been violated. Therefore, we find that Moore's complaint was improperly dismissed.
We hold that the rule of Elrod and Branti extends to promotion, transfer, recall, and hiring decisions based on party affiliation and support, and that all of the petitioners and cross-respondents have stated claims upon which relief may be granted. We affirm the Seventh Circuit insofar as it remanded Rutan's, Taylor's, Standefer's, and O'Brien's claims. However, we reverse the Circuit Court's decision to uphold the dismissal of Moore's claim. All five claims are remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
1. The cases come to us in a preliminary posture and the question is limited to whether the allegations of petitioners Rutan et al. state a cognizable First Amendment claim sufficient to withstand respondents' motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Therefore, for purposes of our review, we must assume that petitioners' well-pleaded allegations are true. Berkovitz v. United States, 486 U.S. 531, 540 (1988).
Three of the five original plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit -- Rutan, Taylor, and Moore -- are petitioners in case No. 88-1872, and we refer to them as "petitioners." The defendants in the lawsuit are various Illinois and Republican Party officials. We refer to them as "respondents" because they are the respondents in case No. 88-1872. They are also the cross-petitioners in case No. 88-2074. Four of the five original plaintiffs -- Rutan, Taylor, Standefer, and O'Brien -- are named as cross-respondents in case No. 88-2074.
2. The five originally brought this action both individually and on behalf of those similarly situated. The Seventh Circuit, noting that the District Court had failed to address the class-action questions, reviewed the case as one brought by individuals only. 868 F.2d 943, 947 (1989). We therefore have only the claims of the individuals before us.
3. The Seventh Circuit explained that Standefer's and O'Brien's claims might be cognizable if there were a formal or informal system of rehiring employees in their positions, 868 F.2d at 956-957, but expressed considerable doubt that Rutan and Taylor would be able to show that they suffered the "substantial equivalent of a dismissal" by being denied promotions and a transfer. Id. at 955-956.
4. Justice SCALIA's lengthy discussion of the appropriate standard of review for restrictions the government places on the constitutionally protected activities of its employees to ensure efficient and effective operations, see post at 94-102, is not only questionable, it offers no support for his conclusion that patronage practices pass muster under the First Amendment. The interests that Justice SCALIA regards as potentially furthered by patronage practices are not interests that the government has in its capacity as an employer. Justice SCALIA describes the possible benefits of patronage as follows: "patronage stabilizes political parties and prevents excessive political fragmentation," post at 104; patronage is necessary to strong, disciplined party organizations, post at 104-105; patronage "fosters the two-party system," post at 106; and patronage is "a powerful means of achieving the social and political integration of excluded groups," post at 108. These are interests the government might have in the structure and functioning of society as a whole. That the government attempts to use public employment to further such interests does not render those interests employment-related. Therefore, even were Justice SCALIA correct that less-than-strict scrutiny is appropriate when the government takes measures to ensure the proper functioning of its internal operations, such a rule has no relevance to the restrictions on freedom of association and speech at issue in this case.
5. Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. 507 (1980), also refined the exception created by Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976), for certain employees. In Elrod, we suggested that policymaking and confidential employees probably could be dismissed on the basis of their political views. Elrod, supra, at 367 (plurality), and 375 (Stewart, J., concurring in judgment). In Branti, we said that a State demonstrates a compelling interest in infringing First Amendment rights only when it can show that "party affiliation is an appropriate requirement for the effective performance of the public office involved." Branti, supra, at 518. The scope of this exception does not concern us here, as respondents concede that the five employees who brought this suit are not within it.
6. Respondents' reliance on Johnson v. Transportation Agency, Santa Clara County, Cal., 480 U.S. 616 (1987), to this effect is misplaced. The question in Johnson was whether the Santa Clara County affirmative action program violated the antidiscrimination requirement of Title VII. In that context, we said that the denial of a promotion did not unsettle any legitimate, firmly rooted expectations. We did not dispute, however, that it placed a burden on the person to whom the promotion was denied. We considered Johnson's expectations in discussing whether the plan unnecessarily trammeled the rights of male employees -- i.e., whether its goal was pursued with an excessive rather than reasonable amount of dislocation. Our decision that promotion denials are not such an imposition that Title VII prevented Santa Clara from considering gender in order to redress past discrimination does not mean that promotion denials are not enough of an imposition to pressure employees to affiliate with the favored party.
7. The complaint in this case states that Dan O'Brien was driven to do exactly this. After being rejected for recall by the Governor's Office, he allegedly pursued the support of a Republican Party official, despite his previous interest in the Democratic Party.
8. The Seventh Circuit's proffered test was not based on that court's determination that other patronage practices do not burden the free exercise of First Amendment rights. Rather, the court chose to defer to the political process in an area in which it felt this Court had not yet spoken clearly. 868 F.2d at 953-954. The court also expressed concern that the opposite conclusion would open state employment to excessive interference by the federal judiciary. Ibid. We respect but do not share this concern.
Our decision does not impose the federal judiciary's supervision on any state government activity that is otherwise immune. The federal courts have long been available for protesting unlawful state employment decisions. Under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(a), (f), and 2000e2(a) (1982 ed.), it is a violation of federal law to discriminate in any way in state employment (excepting certain high-level positions) on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Moreover, the First Amendment, as the court below noted, already protects state employees not only from patronage dismissals but
even an act of retaliation as trivial as failing to hold a birthday party for a public employee . . . when intended to punish her for exercising her free speech rights.
868 F.2d at 954, n. 4.
9. To the extent that respondents also argue that Moore has not been penalized for the exercise of protected speech and association rights because he had no claim of right to employment in the first place, that argument is foreclosed by Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593, 597 (1972). See supra at 72.