GARCETTI v. CEBALLOS


Syllabus

GARCETTI v. CEBALLOS (No. 04-473)
361 F.3d 1168, reversed and remanded.

GARCETTI etal. v. CEBALLOS

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


No. 04473.Argued October 12, 2005Reargued March 21, 2006Decided May 30, 2006

Respondent Ceballos, a supervising deputy district attorney, was asked by defense counsel to review a case in which, counsel claimed, the affidavit police used to obtain a critical search warrant was inaccurate. Concluding after the review that the affidavit made serious misrepresentations, Ceballos relayed his findings to his supervisors, petitioners here, and followed up with a disposition memorandum recommending dismissal. Petitioners nevertheless proceeded with the prosecution. At a hearing on a defense motion to challenge the warrant, Ceballos recounted his observations about the affidavit, but the trial court rejected the challenge. Claiming that petitioners then retaliated against him for his memo in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Ceballos filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit. The District Court granted petitioners summary judgment, ruling, inter alia, that the memo was not protected speech because Ceballos wrote it pursuant to his employment duties. Reversing, the Ninth Circuit held that the memos allegations were protected under the First Amendment analysis in Pickering v. Board of Ed. of Township High School Dist. 205, Will Cty., 391 U.S. 563, and Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138.

Held: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. Pp.514.

(a)Two inquiries guide interpretation of the constitutional protections accorded public employee speech. The first requires determining whether the employee spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern. See Pickering, supra, at 568. If the answer is no, the employee has no First Amendment cause of action based on the employers reaction to the speech. See Connick, supra, at 147. If the answer is yes, the possibility of a First Amendment claim arises. The question becomes whether the government employer had an adequate justification for treating the employee differently from any other member of the general public. See Pickering, supra, at 568. This consideration reflects the importance of the relationship between the speakers expressions and employment. Without a significant degree of control over its employees words and actions, a government employer would have little chance to provide public services efficiently. Cf. Connick, supra, at 143. Thus, a government entity has broader discretion to restrict speech when it acts in its employer role, but the restrictions it imposes must be directed at speech that has some potential to affect its operations. On the other hand, a citizen who works for the government is nonetheless still a citizen. The First Amendment limits a public employers ability to leverage the employment relationship to restrict, incidentally or intentionally, the liberties employees enjoy in their capacities as private citizens. See Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593. So long as employees are speaking as citizens about matters of public concern, they must face only those speech restrictions that are necessary for their employers to operate efficiently and effectively. See, e.g., Connick, supra, at 147. Pp.58.

(b)Proper application of the Courts precedents leads to the conclusion that the First Amendment does not prohibit managerial discipline based on an employees expressions made pursuant to official responsibilities. Because Ceballos memo falls into this category, his allegation of unconstitutional retaliation must fail. The dispositive factor here is not that Ceballos expressed his views inside his office, rather than publicly, see, e.g., Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, nor that the memo concerned the subject matter of his employment, see, e.g., Pickering, 391 U.S, at 573. Rather, the controlling factor is that Ceballos expressions were made pursuant to his official duties. That consideration distinguishes this case from those in which the First Amendment provides protection against discipline. Ceballos wrote his disposition memo because that is part of what he was employed to do. He did not act as a citizen by writing it. The fact that his duties sometimes required him to speak or write does not mean his supervisors were prohibited from evaluating his performance. Restricting speech that owes its existence to a public employees professional responsibilities does not infringe any liberties the employee might have enjoyed as a private citizen. It simply reflects the exercise of employer control over what the employer itself has commissioned or created. Cf. Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819. This result is consistent with the Courts prior emphasis on the potential societal value of employee speech and on affording government employers sufficient discretion to manage their operations. Ceballos proposed contrary rule, adopted by the Ninth Circuit, would commit state and federal courts to a new, permanent, and intrusive role, mandating judicial oversight of communications between and among government employees and their superiors in the course of official business. This displacement of managerial discretion by judicial supervision finds no support in the Courts precedents. The doctrinal anomaly the Court of Appeals perceived in compelling public employers to tolerate certain employee speech made publicly but not speech made pursuant to an employees assigned duties misconceives the theoretical underpinnings of this Courts decisions and is unfounded as a practical matter. Pp.813.

(c)Exposing governmental inefficiency and misconduct is a matter of considerable significance, and various measures have been adopted to protect employees and provide checks on supervisors who would order unlawful or otherwise inappropriate actions. These include federal and state whistle-blower protection laws and labor codes and, for government attorneys, rules of conduct and constitutional obligations apart from the First Amendment. However, the Courts precedents do not support the existence of a constitutional cause of action behind every statement a public employee makes in the course of doing his or her job. Pp.1314.

361 F.3d 1168, reversed and remanded.

Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion.


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).


TOP

Dissent

GIL GARCETTI, etal., PETITIONERS v. RICHARD
CEBALLOS

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit


[May 30, 2006]

Justice Stevens, dissenting.

The proper answer to the question whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employees official duties, ante, at 1, is Sometimes, not Never. Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is inflammatory or misguided, ante, at 11. But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?* *

As Justice Souter explains, public employees are still citizens while they are in the office. The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of ones employment is quite wrong. Over a quarter of a century has passed since then-Justice Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Court, rejected the conclusion that a public employee forfeits his protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech if he decides to express his views privately rather than publicly. Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410, 414 (1979) . We had no difficulty recognizing that the First Amendment applied when Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, raised concerns about the schools racist employment practices to the principal. See id., at 413416. Our silence as to whether or not her speech was made pursuant to her job duties demonstrates that the point was immaterial. That is equally true today, for it is senseless to let constitutional protection for exactly the same words hinge on whether they fall within a job description. Moreover, it seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.

While todays novel conclusion to the contrary may not be inflammatory, for the reasons stated in Justice Souters dissenting opinion it is surely misguided.


Notes

**See, e.g., Branton v. Dallas, 272 F.3d 730 (CA5 2001) (police internal investigator demoted by police chief after bringing the false testimony of a fellow officer to the attention of a city official); Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929, 936 (CA7 2006) (police officer demoted after opposing the police chiefs attempt to us[e] his official position to coerce a financially independent organization into a potentially ruinous merger); Delgado v. Jones, 282 F.3d 511 (CA7 2002) (police officer sanctioned for reporting criminal activity that implicated a local political figure who was a good friend of the police chief); Herts v. Smith, 345 F.3d 581 (CA8 2003) (school district officials contract was not renewed after she gave frank testimony about the districts desegregation efforts); Kincade v. Blue Springs, 64 F.3d 389 (CA8 1995) (engineer fired after reporting to his supervisors that contractors were failing to complete dam-related projects and that the resulting dam might be structurally unstable); Fox v. District of Columbia, 83 F.3d 1491, 1494 (CADC 1996) (D.C. Lottery Board security officer fired after informing the police about a theft made possible by rather drastic managerial ineptitude).