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Facebook 'Likes' Aren't Protected Speech

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the don't-like-a-fire-in-a-crowded-theater dept.

Facebook 214

An anonymous reader writes "In what may win awards for the silliest-sounding lawsuit of the year, a case about whether Facebook 'likes' qualify for free speech protection under the First Amendment has ended in a decisive 'no.' In the run-up to an election for Sheriff, some of the incumbent's employees made their support for the challenger known by 'liking' his page on Facebook. After the incumbent won re-election, the employees were terminated, supposedly because of budget concerns. The employees had taken a few other actions as well — bumper stickers and cookouts — but they couldn't prove the Sheriff was aware of them. The judge thus ruled that 'merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record.'"

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214 comments

What kind of world... (5, Insightful)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | about 2 years ago | (#39834125)

On what planet is money a form of speech but indicating your support for something not?

Re:What kind of world... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834221)

On a capitalist one, apparently.

Re:What kind of world... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834779)

In capitalism, money is not a form of speech; it's property. Therefore, money as free speech is not a capitalistic idea.

Re:What kind of world... (5, Funny)

mykos (1627575) | about 2 years ago | (#39834223)

Planet AMURICA.

Corporations are people too, so suck it, you godless socialist atheist communist fascist Islamist!

Re:What kind of world... (1)

stms (1132653) | about 2 years ago | (#39834373)

'merica Fuck Yeah. Does anyone know a place I can give this decision a like?

Re:What kind of world... (1)

Diamon (13013) | about 2 years ago | (#39834673)

"Too" implies that people are still considered people, I'm not sure that is an assumption that can safely be made.Perhaps it's time for us all start incorporating to maintain our rights.

Re:What kind of world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834307)

The same "planet" (a.k.a. the United States, not the entire earth) that would pass a law like CISPA? Seriously, are you actually surprised by this or are you just complaining because you're too lazy to do something about it?

Re:What kind of world... (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39834335)

In Eastern Virginia, apparently. This is in a district court, which if I am not mistaken, is the lowest federal court. In other words, this decision has no influence outside this case.

Re:What kind of world... (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#39834341)

One which will not be upheld if it makes it to the supreme court.

Re:What kind of world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834951)

I like this comment

Re:What kind of world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834517)

What kind of country elects justice officials?

Re:What kind of world... (0, Flamebait)

JosephTX (2521572) | about 2 years ago | (#39835117)

The same type of planet where 40% of a supposedly educated country doesn't accept the concept of evolution, or the greenhouse effect of various gases when the next planet over is Venus.

What the hell? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834139)

So you if you like the Facebook page of a person or organization your employer disagrees with you can legally be fired?

Re:What the hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834203)

It sounds to me like it was not that it wasn't protected speech. Rather that liking something on facebook was insufficient evidence to support the claim that the employer fired based on politically protected speech. Although I have to say the way it was worded does make me unsure if this is in fact the case. It does seem like the court said it was due to being unprotected based on the quote/summary still.

Re:What the hell? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#39834361)

The court really does appear to have held that "liking" a post isn't speech with sufficient content to even count as speech in the first place, and therefore the court didn't have to look into the question of whether it was really the reason for the person being fired.

That seems very bad and clearly wrong, since it would mean that these kinds of expressions of support could actually be regulated by the federal government, if the First Amendment doesn't apply at all. Expressing your support for something is definitely a kind of expression.

Re:What the hell? (2)

mcavic (2007672) | about 2 years ago | (#39834209)

Yes, you can be fired for stating your opinion on an issue. Actually, you can be fired for any reason at all, as long as they make up a good reason for it.

Re:What the hell? (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#39834349)

This is not true if you are talking about government positions, other than the military (why should they be expected to enjoy the freedoms they are supposedly dying for?).

Re:What the hell? (3, Insightful)

Gorobei (127755) | about 2 years ago | (#39834543)

This is not true if you are talking about government positions, other than the military (why should they be expected to enjoy the freedoms they are supposedly dying for?).

As I am sure you know, the military holds a unique position in any government (they have the guns, and thus the ability to effect change unilaterally.) That's why we severely constrain what a soldier can do when representing himself as a soldier. In the old days, "crossing the Rubicon" was automatic treason, not an expression of freedom.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Holi (250190) | about 2 years ago | (#39834619)

>why should they be expected to enjoy the freedoms they are supposedly dying for?

Because following orders from people who know the big picture is more important to the overall objective then your feelings. If soldiers were always questioning orders the military would fail in all of it's endeavors.

Re:What the hell? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39834717)

And how doesn't the same argument apply to any other governmental employee?

Re:What the hell? (1)

mhotchin (791085) | about 2 years ago | (#39835109)

The other employees aren't armed.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835251)

But its in America. Everybody is armed.

There are actually places in America where its illegal to NOT have a gun.
There are actually places there where you can LEGALLY walk around with a concealed firearm.

Yes I know, it boggles the mind, but its really like that over there.

There are two fundamental freedoms that you can never take away from an American;
The right to shoot people to death, and the right to praise the *LORD* Jesus almighty, hallelujah !

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835119)

Because military outcomes are permanent. Unlike political outcomes which can be revisited and reargued and reconsidered as often as the political body may wish.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835213)

the military would fail in all of it's endeavors.

Vietnam. Korea. Peace in the Middle East. Ending terrorism.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834649)

When I worked for a state government agency, we were expressly told that we were not allowed to discuss our political views, have political bumper stickers, etc, as it would be grounds for termination. If the state is an At Will state, the local/state government can terminate you for any cause they want. Note that a Sheriff's Dept is not a federal government agency, so it's subject to the state's policies, the counties policies, etc, as long as they are not terminating for the protected reasons (gender, etc)

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834339)

So if I have an employee who likes a bunch of wacko sky daddie jesus bullshit I can fire him? Cool!

Not surprising (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39834157)

Considering that the federal government has caused researchers to lose their jobs over entire books their have published, it is hardly surprising that such a minute form of expression would not be considered "protected."

Re:Not surprising (1)

rthille (8526) | about 2 years ago | (#39834353)

Citation please?

Re:Not surprising (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39834413)

How about Alexander Shulgin, whose lab was raided and whose research license was revoked after he published a book on the drugs he had researched? He has continued to work, but is basically barred from performing any analysis on illegal drugs, which at this point includes whole families of drugs that he described in his books.

Re:Not surprising (2)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 2 years ago | (#39834959)

Confessing to a crime(whether the crime is STUPIDLY classified as such is another issue entirely) is easily grounds for revocation of a research license.

Re:Not surprising (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#39834975)

Over two years after he published said book. His license was revoked because he violated the terms of it.

Sure the two events were most likely related, but it he didn't lose a job for the book he lost it for possession of illicit drugs that he didn't create in his lab under his license.

Why didn't they unlike the posts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834169)

when the lawsuit was filed? Unless the sheriff captured a screenshot...

Re:Why didn't they unlike the posts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834205)

I'm sure that could be considered tampering with evidence, even though the information is surely available from Facebook.

award (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834171)

It wins the award for sure.
http://surfographie.com

Don't do anything or say anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834181)

Oh, great. I just "liked" a peanut butter dipped in sugar fan page, and now I'm sure that the government and/or insurance companies will use that against me. It's getting to the point where you just shouldn't do anything or say anything. As Larry David said, "You just can't leave the house any more."

Re:Don't do anything or say anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835265)

Serves you right for using Facebook. You signed away your right to privacy when you agreed to the Terms of Service.

Dont go complaining you lost your privacy when you agreed to throw it away.

Decision erodes rights (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39834187)

You can be fired for your Facebook likes, but since they don't count as free speech theoretically this means the government could regulate them.

It's an unfortunate decision that's likely to become a precedent for future cases where your free speech will be further restricted.

Re:Decision erodes rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834247)

Why not? They've been working on the other ammendments.

Re:Decision erodes rights (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834277)

You have to think of the corollary as well. If my employer has a Facebook page, and I DON'T "Like" it, it would also put me at a disadvantage in the workplace.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Re:Decision erodes rights (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#39834635)

It's called "being at the bottom of the chain of command and doing what the fuck you are told."

Re:Decision erodes rights (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834333)

Oh please. This is a slam dunk for appeal. The judge simply didn't get it.

Re:Decision erodes rights (0)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 years ago | (#39834607)

It can't be a precedent because it was determined in summary judgement. The whole thing about the first amendment was buried in the summary judgement decision, but it is irrelevant at this point.

Re:Decision erodes rights (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39834703)

It's an unfortunate decision that's likely to become a precedent for future cases where your free speech will be further restricted.

Probably not, it was a lowly US district court. It wasn't like a supreme court where the decision are followed by many other courts afterwards.

Re:Decision erodes rights (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#39834941)

but wait... no one would dispute that calling someone an asshole/idiot is free speech, correct? So if I call my boss an assholeidiot behind his back, and he finds out and then fires me, is this a travesty against human rights and freedom?

Re:Decision erodes rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834991)

Why is it unfortunate that telling the entire world "I want my boss to be fired" doesn't protect you from your boss finding out and firing you instead?

You can't badmouth your employer and expect to keep your job.

Re:Decision erodes rights (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#39835019)

"Why is it unfortunate that telling the entire world "I want my boss to be fired" doesn't protect you from your boss finding out and firing you instead?"

Actually, in a lot of places your boss can't fire you for expressing your opinion. It depends what state you live in.

"You can't badmouth your employer and expect to keep your job."

Your boss isn't your employer unless he also owns the company.

Judges Can't Read (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834189)

I'm convinced. This is pretty clearly a violation of free speech. It's not the "like" that's being silenced. It's the political support for the other guy.

Re:Judges Can't Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834299)

But if it's the employer that's silencing it, rather the law, then there's no free speech violation. Free speech is supposed to mean that I can tell the President to F off without being thrown in jail. It doesn't mean I can tell my boss to F off without being fired.

Re:Judges Can't Read (1, Informative)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#39834647)

It's a free speech violation if the employer IS the government.

In this case, the incumbent sheriff who is an agent of the county.

Re:Judges Can't Read (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834819)

No, the first amendment only bars congress and the government from making laws that limit free speech, it doesn't mean they can't fire you for what you say.

Re:Judges Can't Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834387)

they can read just fine. they're just senile and evil old white pieces of human shit.

Burden of proof (4, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#39834191)

I don't know about America but here in Europe this is one of the rare cases when the burden of proof is on the accused. The employer has to prove that the justification he gave when firing those people was valid. In a case like this, he would have to prove that there wasn't enough money. If he fails to do that, for example because he hired new people to fill the empty positions, then he loses.

The problem here is that even if 'likes' were considered free speech, it would be almost impossible to prove that they were fired because of that.

Re:Burden of proof (3, Insightful)

sycomonkey (666153) | about 2 years ago | (#39834295)

There are disadvantages to that. I'm specifically thinking of the flexibility of the job market: In the course of being edged out by competitors or a changing market, an employer might hold on to their workforce longer than they should out of fear of being sued for wrongful dismissal. That makes the entire economy less capable of adjusting to disruptive technologies and global market realities. That being said, in the US we tend to avoid this to kind of an absurd level. Most states are right-to-work, where you can be fired (or quit) for no reason whatsoever. And even in states were that is not the case, it is often practically impossible to sue for wrongful dismissal except in particularly egregiousness cases like discrimination (and you can still get sued for that in RtW states anyway).

That's at-will, not right-to-work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834371)

You got your terms mixed up. Right-to-work means membership to a union cannot be a requirement for the job. At-will employment is where either party can terminate the relationship without giving a reason.

Re:That's at-will, not right-to-work (2)

sycomonkey (666153) | about 2 years ago | (#39834479)

Yeh, I messed that up. At-Will is standard operating procedure in the US though, which was my point.

Re:Burden of proof (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#39834393)

There are disadvantages to that. I'm specifically thinking of the flexibility of the job market: In the course of being edged out by competitors or a changing market, an employer might hold on to their workforce longer than they should out of fear of being sued for wrongful dismissal. That makes the entire economy less capable of adjusting to disruptive technologies and global market realities.

That's a feature, not a bug. Entrepreneurs are precisely the people who should bear the risks of the market, since they also get the profits. This way employees have more job security and employers have a motivation to train their employees rather than fire them and hire new ones. Both of these help stabilize the economy.

Also, there is no such thing as "market reality". The "market" is a purely social construct and as such can be altered at will. Just look at the financial industry if you don't believe me: trillions of dollars can vanish overnight, yet nothing in the physical reality changes.

Re:Burden of proof (2)

sycomonkey (666153) | about 2 years ago | (#39834491)

By "market reality" I meant things such as the fact that China exists, or that Widgets cost 3x as much to make in country A than in country B. Facts that affect markets.

Re:Burden of proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835255)

30% increase is not a 300% increase, Mr. Facts. But if you want to live like a Chinese factory worker I guess trying to build your local economy doesn't make sense either way.

Re:Burden of proof (4, Insightful)

happyhamster (134378) | about 2 years ago | (#39834475)

These are not "disadvantages", but the way decent society should work. The utterly unethical, immoral treatment of workers in "right-to-throw-you-out-on-a-whim" states as warm spare parts has to stop. It's not producing a healthy society I'd like my kids to grow up in. Economy is important, but it should not take precedence over a healthy society where most workers have stable careers and can afford to have families and raise children in economic security.

Seriously? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#39834213)

It is the courtâ(TM)s conclusion that merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.

This has got to be the silliest ruling I've heard in a while, it's at least as protected as putting your signature on a petition. You're endorsing a group or organization or person and what they stand for.

Re:Seriously? (1)

mcavic (2007672) | about 2 years ago | (#39834313)

It doesn't make any sense to me at all. If "liking" a page is not speech, then it's meaningless, and therefore there's no issue. But if a "like" requires constitutional protection, then is IS speech, period.

Re:Seriously? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834881)

Damn right. Since when is volume or weight a deciding factor for First Amendment protection?

In my understanding, ALL speech is assumed to be free from censorship unless the government has a compelling case for limiting it, based on the overriding protection of others' safety or rights.

That a judge can simply say, "nope, not substantial enough" is deeply disturbing.

Tangled mess (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#39834219)

First of all, are Sheriff's dept. employees granted the right to speak their opinion on a Sheriff's election without fear of losing their jobs?

One could argue that they either should or shouldn't: Pro would be they should be civil servants not beholden to any one political officeholder or another. Con would be that if the Sheriff were elected on a platform, he would need his own people in there to implement his goal.

Anyway, if Sheriff's employees do have a right to protected free speech in general, it boggles the mind as to how a Facebook like is not speech.

I'm hoping the judge didn't say that a Facebook Like doesn't make use of the vocal chords, and hence, it's not "speech"?

Not complicated (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | about 2 years ago | (#39834227)

If it can be proven that there is any pattern to the layoffs corresponding to the Sheriff's political opposition, he should be sued for the obvious civil rights violation.

For a lot of money, and thrown in jail, too, if possible.

Slippery slope anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834235)

Today, "'merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection"

Ant then tomorrow, "merely saying 'no' is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection"

Goodbye dissent.

the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834263)

is the enemy

Re:the government (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834323)

Wait, but the people were asking the government for help getting their jobs back...if you're on of those "gubmint is evil" republican wacko types why would this say the government is evil? It just protected a job creators rights! Isn't that would you dudes want? Job creators to rule us all with no pesky gubmint to defend anyone? In this case the government didn't do anything, how can that make it evil from a libertarian perspective? I mean isn't that what you want? The government to do nothing?

I'd fire them too (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834267)

Along with anyone else who's enough of a douche to participate in the circle jerk of "liking" things on facebook.

chilling effect on facebook? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834301)

So i guess the moral of this story is don't "like" anything...

Re:chilling effect on facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834431)

No, the moral of the story should be not to have a damned facebook account.

Re:chilling effect on facebook? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834433)

Pfft, even being stupid enough to use a website like facebook should be grounds for termination.

OK Used my free speech, now mod me flamebait and troll with yours.

Like using it that way?

Forgettable ruling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834309)

It's nice and catchy, but the vast majority of this decision was centered around the plaintiffs not producing nearly enough evidence to assert their claims. Most courts would consider the statements about the likes to be dicta - authoritative, but not binding.

Only District Court (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#39834315)

This is a decision from the US District Court of Eastern Virginia> there are two more apeal levels to go; US Court od Appeals and The Supreme Court of the United States. This is going to be appealed mainly due to the SCOTUS taking a very broad view of what is protected speech when political office is involved.

Local government a petty psychotic tyranny? (2)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#39834319)

Where do you get such crazy talk????

Re:Local government a petty psychotic tyranny? (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about 2 years ago | (#39834539)

Yeah, maybe the true story here is that someone actually thought their local government wasn't a fascist dictatorship.

Re:Local government a petty psychotic tyranny? (3, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#39834565)

Fortunately, you can move when you local government goes psycho. The larger the government which you allow to go psycho, the harder it is to move to get away from it.

NH RSA 98-E (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about 2 years ago | (#39834363)

Fortunately not all states' laws are the same. New Hampshire [nhclog.org] has one of the strongest public employee freedom of expression statutes in the country.

Judge Interviewed (3, Funny)

rossz (67331) | about 2 years ago | (#39834483)

When questioned by reporters, the judge responded, "My cousin^H^H^H^H^H^H The sheriff is a hard working public servant who had to make some tough budget choices."

stupid judge (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#39834547)

"...And what's more, being a miner, as soon as you're too old and tired and ill and sick and stupid to do your job properly, you 'ave to go. But the very opposite applies to judges – so all in all, I'd rather have been a judge than a miner..." -- Monty Python

"Like" on facebook can be a misleading term. (4, Insightful)

Mysteryprize (2466438) | about 2 years ago | (#39834555)

If you want to follow any discussion taking place on a facebook page, you usually have to "Like" it first. The word implies that you are supporting it, but you might just do it for the sake of curiosity, not to show how you genuinely feel about a subject.

I always hate summary judgments (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#39834675)

... because that tells me the judge just doesn't want to hear both sides in a real courtroom where we can see what the real case is about. Maybe he's on the take? No proof of that, but situations like that do get lots more summary judgments. It does sound suspicious, to me.

Re:I always hate summary judgments (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#39835033)

"Maybe he's on the take?"

We can't be sure if he is on the take, but we can be certain he doesn't care if people like him.

Re:I always hate summary judgments (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | about 2 years ago | (#39835175)

Summary judgements have their place. What is the point of having a trial when one side cannot win, as a matter of law, regardless of the facts. I'm not endorsing this particular decision, but I support the appropriate use of summary judgements.

Good question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834681)

At this rate, they'll start making it illegal to single stupid jingles from 80's era tv adverts.

Re:Good question (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#39835045)

"At this rate, they'll start making it illegal to single stupid jingles from 80's era tv adverts."

Damn it man! I was an anarchist until you wrote that post and proved to me that some laws are justifiable!

Showing your support isn't protected Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834689)

What a Like is is showing support for something, equivalent to wearing a button, or protesting. This is a disasterous decision.

Budget Constraints. (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#39834861)

It is very simple to verify if the firings were due to budget choices; are the positions open or have other people been hired to fill them? If they have been filled thatn the reason for firing is not budget constraints and the Sheriff lied.

Likes saving the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834869)

Don't forget to like posts on Facebook!
http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/3635428/Likes/

Is free speech the right place for this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39834985)

So would getting fired by liking someone running against your boss be the same as getting discharged for wall posting your dislike of your commander? The problem isn't a matter of free speech - we are all free to say or post whatever we want on Facebook, it seems the issue is when our personal opinions become valid reasons for someone's termination. Instead of trying to put this kind of stuff under 'free speech' shouldn't we be trying it under 'discrimination and retaliation' laws?

You have to be willing to vote them out of office. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#39835017)

Period.

Everyone is obsessed about whether a politician is a republican or a democrat. The D or R is king. If the D is in office and you're a democrat or vice versa then most voters will never vote for the opposing party to get rid of him.

That's what you need to be willing to do on these matters.

Make it clear to the politicians that this is an issue that will cost you elections. And they'll respect it.

Short of that. They don't care.

Sheriff is often an elected position (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | about 2 years ago | (#39835173)

And often deputy sheriffs serve at the pleasure of the Sheriff. As such, I believe that it is possible to fire them for any reason. Ultimately it depends on local regulations. Dick move, but politics is full of assholes who make dick moves.

I don't think freedom of speech protects your job, it keeps you from getting jailed. Ozzie Guillen just got suspended for making the Castro comments. Granted, he still has a job, but he lost income.

Re:Sheriff is often an elected position (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39835271)

Just to clarify what you said, there are things you cannot be fired for. Race, gender, etc. But political affiliation is not protected. Yes, your boss can fire you for belonging to another party. That's sort of what happened here.

Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

Pfhorrest (545131) | about 2 years ago | (#39835219)

Something about this story sounds completely backward in every way, and maybe someone here can explain if it's the judge, the writer/editor, or just me who is sorely confused.

First of all, insufficient to count as free speech? Have we really come so far from not only the letter but even the spirit of the First Amendment that only certain special classes of speech deserve protection from censorship, rather than (as the law literally states) all speech being completely protected, or at least (as courts have long interpreted) only certain egregiously dangerous speech, such as credible incitement to violence, deserving censorship? Is it really now no longer "is this dangerous enough to censor it?" but "is this acceptable enough to permit it?"

Second of all, who is censoring who here? Someone got fired because their boss didn't like their opinion. In a private business (see next sentence before you jump on this) that's perfectly fine; freedom of association and all that, I don't have to work for people I don't like and I shouldn't have to let people I don't like work for me either; I've quit a job in part because of the owner's political expressions, why should the other way around be any different. In this case it's a public agency so I can see some stricter rules for hiring and firing being required, but nevertheless, in any case, this is a wrongful termination issue, not a free speech issue. This is not the government telling you "you are not allowed to say X"; this is an employer saying "we won't employ people who support Y". How the hell did this become an issue of free speech at all?

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