Thursday, June 7, 2018

2d Circuit Holds Union Speech Can Be Protected By The First Amendment

Montero v. City of Yonkers, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. May 16, 2018), is an important First Amendment decision. The Court held that certain speech made at a union meeting can be protected by the First Amendment. The Court did not go as far as several other circuits which held that speech made at a union meetings is per se speech made by a private citizen. Specifically, the 2d Circuit stated:
While we therefore decline to decide categorically that when a person
speaks in his capacity as a union member, he speaks as a private citizen, we conclude that, under the facts of this case as set out in the amended complaint, when Montero spoke in his capacity as a union member, he spoke as a private citizen. This was because, taking the amended complaintʹs allegations as true, Montero spoke in his role as a union officer, and his union speech was not composed of statements made as a ʺmeans to fulfillʺ or ʺundertaken in the course of performingʺ his responsibilities as a police officer. Weintraub, 593 F.3d at 203 (quotation marks omitted). Consequently, he engaged in citizen speech for purposes of the First Amendment.
This decision is lengthly and it spans about 45 pages. The decision reviews the history of First Amendment jurisprudence in this Circuit and is a primer on First Amendment protections for public employees or the lack thereof which readers should be aware of.

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