City of San Diego v. Roe Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Respondent Roe brought suit alleging, inter alia, that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech were violated when the city of San Diego terminated his employment as a police officer, for selling police paraphernalia and videotapes of himself engaging in sexually explicit acts. A Federal District Court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, and the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Roe’s conduct fell within the protected category of citizen commentary on matters of public concern.


Does a juvenile’s request for his probation officer trigger the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination?


“No. In a unanimous per curiam opinion, the Court held that firing Roe for his behavior and “speech” did not violate the First Amendment. Government employers, the Court wrote, could restrict their employees’ speech in ways that would be unconstitutional if applied to the general public. But government employees had the right to speak on matters of public concern, such as on government policies of interest to the public. In this case, however, Roe’s activities did not inform the public about the police department and were also detrimental to the force.”

Case Information

Citation: 543 US 77 (2004)
Decided: Dec 6, 2004
Case Brief: 2004