U.S. Supreme Court Gives Increased Protection to Government Employees

The National Law Forum

The Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously that government employees who testify about public corruption are protected by the First Amendment. The case, Lane v. Franks,[1] centered on a public employee, Lane, who worked at an Alabama community college where he led the school’s program for at-risk youth.

While working for the community college, Lane discovered a state representative was on the program’s payroll, despite doing no work for the program. Lane terminated the representative’s employment, and subsequently, the representative was indicted by federal authorities on corruption-related charges. Lane testified, under subpoena, at the representative’s trial in 2008. In 2009, Lane was fired from the college. Lane sued the community college president individually and in his official capacity alleging that the official violated his First Amendment protections.

The college president argued that Lane’s sworn testimony was not protected by the First Amendment because it was based on information…

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