The People’s First Amendment: Tennessee whistleblower wins round in federal court

A sheriff captain feared a coverup and supplied information to the district attorney and FBI and was fired for his efforts. John Ford sued for violation of his free speech rights claiming that the report to the outside agencies was not official speech as described in Garcetti v. Ceballos. A federal district judge ruled that the lawsuit could proceed as Ford supplied evidence he was fired for his speech to outside agencies, and it was up to a jury to determine if Ford was fired for insubordination or for going to outside agencies. (The Free Speech Center, November 10, 2022, by David L. Hudson Jr.)

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a national beauty contest had a First Amendment right to bar a transgender woman from competing. To allow the woman to compete would constitute compelled speech, the court wrote, and run counter to a beauty contest’s view of what constituted the vision of the ideal American woman. (The Free Speech Center, November 4, 2022, by Rebecca Boone of The Associated Press)

Furman University suspended a professor who attended the Unite the Right rally in Virginia, a protest over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. The professor said he had the right to attend and that the university deemed him guilty by association. (WYFF4, October 6, 2022, by Stephanie Moore)

A Salem, Oregon woman won a lawsuit in federal court awarding her $1 million over a 2020 incident at a protest, the jury agreeing that excessive force was used against her but that the police did not violate her First Amendment right to lawful assembly. (Salem Statesman Journal, October 5, 2022, by Dejania Oliver)

A pastor lost his free speech lawsuit in federal appeals court on a technicality. He sued after his microphone was shut off during an invocation at a Jacksonville City Council meeting. The court said the free speech protections he cited in the filing did not apply since the invocation was considered “government speech.” (The Florida Times-Union, October 4, 2022, by Steve Patterson)

A pregnant woman is fighting to stay out of prison after she was arrested in South Carolina during June 2020 protests of the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd police killings. She made comments to police that they considered hostile that led to her conviction for “breach of peace.”(CNN, September 11, 2022, by Nicole Chavez and Virginia Langmaid)

A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii is threatening to sue the city for revoking his license plate that reads “FCKBLM” that he legally obtained in early 2021. (Honolulu Civil Beat, September 11, 2022, by Stewart Yerton)

A Long Island Railroad conductor lost his free speech lawsuit against the transit authority who fired him for remarks on social media platforms that included a display of a White power hand symbol. Steven Rosati’s lawsuit failed because he did not describe the official policy that denied his constitutional right. (Bloomberg Law, August 24, 2022, by Annelise Gilbert)

A former Illinois State football coach won a round in federal district court that ruled that he was within his First Amendment rights to post an “all lives matter” sign on his office door in 2020. (AthleticBusiness, August 15, 2022, by Paul Steinbach)

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit filed by a Phoenix police officer who said his department violated his free speech rights in trying to discipline him for anti-Muslim Facebook posts in 2013 and 2014. (Arizona Republic, August 9, 2022, by Sam Burdette)

A Tennessee teacher is suing in federal court for his three-day suspension for profanity-laden posts he made on social media when he was off duty. Former teacher Jeremy McLaughlin claims his free speech rights were violated by the suspension that was prompted by his stance for virtual learning and a mask requirement. (Tennessee Lookout, July 25, 2022, by Jamie Satterfield)

The founder of Patriot Prayer was exonerated by a county circuit judge for charges of inciting a riot in May of 2019. “The record is overwhelming and indisputable that Mr. Gibson spoke obnoxiously to the crowd at Cider Riot,” the judge wrote. “He was provocative, he was taunting … That is all speech … Speech cannot be considered in whether or not defendant committed a crime of riot.” (MYNorthwest, July 21, 2022, by Dori Monson)

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant, canned for her pro-life views, won a $5.1 jury award from Southwest and her union. (Daily Wire, July 17, 2022, biy Amanda Prestigiacomo)

A Lakeland, Florida 13-year -old girl was arrested at an abortion right protest on the Fourth of July, charged with violating a noise control ordinance for using a megaphone. (WFLA8, July 8, 2022, by Justin Schecker)

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in support of a lawsuit brought by parents of a Cherry Creek, Colorado boy who posted an photo of himself and friends with the caption, “me and the boys bout to exterminate the Jews.” The boy said he did not intend it to be taken seriously. The appeals court overturned a lower court decision upholding his expulsion from school, writing that the post did not amount to a “true threat.” (Courthouse News Service, July 6, 2022, by Amana Pampuro)

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