From today’s Report and Recommendations by Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker (E.D. Cal.) in Johnson v. Watkin; the plaintiff is a history professor at Bakersfield College, a California public community college. The opinion is long, so I’ve excerpted it heavily; read the whole thing for more of the legal analysis, and the interesting and contentious factual backstory.
A bit of legal background: In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the Court held that the First Amendment generally doesn’t “protect a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employee’s official duties,” but it left room for a possible exception for scholarship and teaching in higher education:
Several appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit (which includes California), have concluded that scholarship and teaching in colleges and universities is indeed constitutionally protected, if it (1) consists of speech on matters of public concern, and (2) passes a balancing test set forth by Pickering v. Bd. of Ed. (1968)—i.e., if the employee’s First Amendment rights aren’t outweighed by “the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.” The Report and Recommendations applied this framework:
Plaintiff is represented by Alan Gura, Courtney Corbello, and Endel Kolde (Institute for Free Speech).