Monday, January 20, 2014

SCOTUS Grants Cert in First Amendment Public Employee Retaliation Case

On Friday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Lane v. Franks (SCOTUSblog page here) (as an aside, Tom Goldstein, the publisher of SCOTUSblog, appears to be lead counsel on this case). Per the Petition, the issue presented is:
Is the government categorically free under the First Amendment to retaliate against a public employee for truthful sworn testimony that was compelled by subpoena and was not a part of the employee’s ordinary job responsibilities?
With a follow-up question of whether qualified immunity precludes damages.

If you're wondering how this issue pops up, here's a brief statement of the facts from the Petition:
This is a First Amendment retaliation case arising from a public employee’s truthful subpoenaed testimony in a federal fraud prosecution. Petitioner alleges that respondents terminated him in retaliation for his compelled testimony at the criminal trial of a corrupt legislator who abused her position to defraud the government.
The Eleventh Circuit held that the testimony received no First Amendment protection, in conflict with prior decisions from the Third, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled arguments.