Will Teachers Shed Their First Amendment Rights at the Schoolhouse Gate? The Eleventh Circuit's Post-Garcetti Jurisprudence
39 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2009 Last revised: 3 May 2009
Date Written: February 24, 2009
Since the 1960s, educators have enjoyed a significant (if confusing) array of First Amendment privileges. The confusion resulted from tensions between principles of academic freedom (both of the educator and the educational institution) and the public employee speech doctrine. The Supreme Court's 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos threw approximately forty years of First Amendment protections for educators into grave doubt. While Garcetti explicitly declined to address the unique situation of educators, at least with respect to academic freedom issues, the Eleventh Circuit lost no time in adapting the Garcetti reasoning to educational settings, however inexact the fit.
This article begins by examining the various doctrinal threads that previously comprised First Amendment protections for educators, and then analyzes how Garcetti and the Eleventh Circuit's incorporation of Garcetti into its jurisprudence jeopardize important First Amendment rights in the educational setting. The article concludes with a proposal for re-thinking the Eleventh Circuit's First Amendment jurisprudence as it applies to educators.
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