ACLU Stands Up for Sheriff's Free Speech
You don't surrender your constitutional rights based on who you work for. That's why the ACLU of Northern California sued on behalf of a deputy sheriff in Trinity County who was censured at work after publishing letters to the editor in the local paper.
A judge agreed, and has issued a permanent injunction in behalf of our client, protecting his free speech rights. The injunction means that the Trinity County Sheriff's Department cannot censure out client, Mark Potts, or other employees for speaking out about civic issues.
Law enforcement officers provide an important public service. The court's ruling recognizes that they have just as much of a right to express their opinions on public policy issues as other public employees. This includes speaking out as individuals about criminal justice reforms. The First Amendment encourages a diversity of viewpoints. The government doesn't have a right to punish its employees for speaking out and airing controversial perspectives.
Linda Lye is a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.