1. Majority Opinion (5-4)
a. No. Writing for the majority, Justice White held that if the expression about an issue is of private concern, then the Pickering balancing test will not even apply, the speech can be constitutionally prohibited, and the employee can be fired. But that employee’s First Am. rights are not totally absolved. If the target of the speech—such as the government employer Connick in this
case—files a libel suit against the government employee, the employer
must still meet the standards for showing that the employee libeled
1. Dave says the rationale for fashioning this rule is that the
Court did not want the federal bench to have a great deal of judicial
oversight in cases involving “private concern.” The Court deferred
to the government offices to run their offices efficiently.
b. Whether speech is of public or private concern is to be
determined by the “content, form, and context” of a given statement
(note that this test comes from Dun & Bradstreet) and whether or not
it involves “any matter of political, social, or other concern to the
community.” The Court applied this test to P’s questionnaire, and
held that all of the questions, except one, were of “private
concern.” Why were those questions of “private concern”? The Court
applied the above test and held that P did inform the public that the
DA’s Office was not discharging its governmental responsibilities in
investigating and prosecuting criminal cases. Nor did she bring to
light actual or potential wrongdoing. While discipline and morale in
the workplace are related to an agency’s efficient performance of it
duties, the Myers’ questionnaire is not to evaluate the performance
of the office but rather to gather ammunition for another round of
controversy with her supervisors. But one question re “the pressure
to work in political campaigns on behalf of office supported
candidates” was held to involve a matter of public concern. The
Court—because this was speech of public concern made in a private
forum—applied the Pickering balancing test (as it did in Givhan).
The Court found that the questionnaire touched upon public concern
“only in the most limited sense,” and that it nevertheless
substantially interfered with the efficiency of the office. Under
Pickering, P’s First Am. right to speak on an issue of public concern
was outweighed by D’s right to run his office efficiently.
c. The majority held that, under Pickering, speech does not have to
have allow “events to unfold to the extent that the disruption of the
office and the destruction of working relationships is manifest.” He
can take action before this occurs.
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