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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Police Officer Facebook Post Not Protected by First Amendment

A police officer was fired after she posted statements on the mayor's Facebook page that criticized the police chief for not allowing Greenville police officers to use their squad cars to attend the funeral of a police officer of another city who was killed in the line of duty.  After she was terminated, she sued the city, claiming that she was fired in retaliation for exercising her free speech rights under the First Amendment.  We posted previously here about the district court's ruling in favor of the city that the officer's posts were not protected by the First Amendment.  

The officer appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued an opinion earlier this month also in favor of the city. Graziosi v. City of Greenville, (5th Cir. January 9, 2015).   Although the appellate court held that the officer was speaking as a citizen, rather than an officer, it found officer's statements not entitled to First amendment protection because her speech was not on a matter of public concern. Her speech, rather, was a rant directed at the chief which involved a dispute over an intra-departmental decision, which is not a matter of public concern.

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