Garcetti v. Ceballos - Oral Reargument - March 21, 2006

Garcetti v. Ceballos

Media for Garcetti v. Ceballos

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 30, 2006 in Garcetti v. Ceballos
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 2005 in Garcetti v. Ceballos

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - March 21, 2006 in Garcetti v. Ceballos

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument next in 04-473, Garcetti versus Ceballos.

Ms. Lee.

Cindy S. Lee:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

At its core, the first amendment is about free and open debate on matters of public importance.

It's about citizens' rights to participate in public debate and contribute their personal opinions and views whether they are mainstream or not.

The first amendment is not, however, about policing the workplace.

It is not about constitutionalizing the law of public employment.

Nor should it be.

Yet, if the Ninth Circuit's approach is accepted or adopted, this is what it will do.

In this Section 1983 action, a deputy district attorney prepared a disposition memorandum, pursuant to his prosecutorial duties, setting forth the reasons why, in his prosecutorial judgment, the criminal case that he was supervising was likely to be dismissed.

The fact that the supervisor did not agree with the content of that memorandum should not give the plaintiff a constitutional right to challenge adverse employment decisions that he claims were in response to the product of that memorandum.

There are no first amendment interests that are served when public employees are allowed to perform assigned job duties in such a way as to the disagreement of the public employer.

Essentially, what the--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Well, I--

Cindy S. Lee:

--Ninth Circuit--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

--I suppose the public might have an interest in knowing about this debate.

I don't know if you can say there's no public interest served.

It might be that there are other counterbalancing first... interests, but I don't think you could say we have no interest in speech.

This was... this is a... on its face, a rather interesting... a rather interesting argument that they're... that they're having.

Cindy S. Lee:

--When--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

They're interested in criminal law, criminal procedure, et cetera, et cetera.

Cindy S. Lee:

--Well, it's our position that when speech by public employees cannot fairly be said to be speech as a citizen, then the Government should have a presumptive right to manage its personnel affairs and internal--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Well, that... yes, that's something different.

But your statement, that there's just no first amendment interest--

Cindy S. Lee:

--Well, there's on core first amendment values that are furthered when public employers have to justify employment decisions that they make on a routine basis.

David H. Souter:

Well, why wasn't that equally true in Connick?

Cindy S. Lee:

Well, the difference in Connick is that the employee... the prosecutor in that actions spoke more closely with a citizen, and the Government--

David H. Souter:

Yes, but I mean that's--

Cindy S. Lee:

--had--