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Connick v. Myers

United States Supreme Court
461 U.S. 138 (1983)


Facts

Sheila Meyers (plaintiff) was an assistant district attorney employed in New Orleans in the office of Harry Connick, Sr. (defendant), the New Orleans District Attorney. Connick told Meyers that she would be transferred to prosecute cases in a different area of the criminal court. Meyers opposed this transfer, and expressed her view to Connick and other supervisors. When told that her views were not shared by other employees, Meyers conducted a survey of her fellow employees’ views on the transfer policy, office morale, the need for a grievance committee, the level of confidence in supervisors, and whether employees felt pressured to work in political campaigns. Connick was informed by one of his assistants that Meyers was creating a “mini-insurrection” in the office. Connick terminated Meyers due to her refusal to accept the transfer, and because he believed her distribution of the questionnaire to be an act of insubordination. Meyers challenged her termination in federal district court on the ground that it violated the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. The district court held for Meyers, relying on the Supreme Court’s holding in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) that a “state cannot condition public employment on a basis that infringes the employee’s constitutionally protected interest in freedom of expression.” The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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