This morning, I had the pleasure of visiting again with John Dankosky on his WNPR show, Where We Live. Much of the discussion on the show revolved around a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, Lane v. Franks.I haven’t discussed that case on the blog yet, because we’re still waiting for the court’s opinion, but it’s worth a quick note. The court held argument on the case a few weeks ago and a decision is expected by June.
At issue in that case is whether an employee’s compelled testimony under a subpoena deserves First Amendment protection, even if the speech relates to his official job duties.
All of the speakers on the show agreed with the notion that it is unlikely we’ll see any great changes to the rule announced back in 2006 in the Garcetti case that speech “pursuant” to an employee’s official job duties does not fall within First Amendment protection. But it is likely that the court will issue a narrow exception to that — perhaps on the grounds that compelled testimony that is factually true is entitled to some protection.
During oral argument, several Supreme Court justices appeared troubled by the notion that an employee could be fired just for truthful speech about illegal activity at the workplace that was compelled by a subpoena.
What this will mean in Connecticut — which has a statute that applies the First Amendment to private employers — remains to be seen. Typically the Connecticut Supreme Court follows U.S. Supreme Court precedent in this area; but the Connecticut courts have been asked to review free speech rights under the State Constitution as well — a subject I’ve discussed in a prior post.
My thanks to WNPR producers Lydia Brown and Catie Talarski for coordinating my visit as well. You can find a link to the show’s stream at this link down on the page.