Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution. Thanks to the First Amendment, we can rant about politicians and other public officials all day long.
We just can't "like" them on Facebook…
Daniel Ray Carter and Robert McCoy were deputies in the Hampton, Virginia sheriff’s office. Were, that is, until they made the mistake of "liking" their boss' opponent's Facebook page during a contested sheriff election. They were both fired shortly after their boss won reelection.
As government employees, Carter and McCoy are protected by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, a federal judge in Virginia denied their claim that they were unconstitutionally fired for expressing their political view on the unusual theory that "liking" a Facebook page does not constitute a form of expression protected by the First Amendment:
"No such statements exist in this case. Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection."
Of course, that's not actually true. The Supreme Court has held that protected speech includes acts such as wearing an anti-war armband, waving a flag and displaying a swastika. Apparently, the judge was just exercising his freedom to be a crotchety old man to whom everything on the Internet is too new, evil and scary to be constitutional.
In addition to losing their case, the two fired deputies were promptly ordered to get off the judge's lawn.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Bill of Rights, Constitution, Facebook, Internet, Laws, Police, Supreme Court, Virginia