The court today ruled that First Amendment guarantees do not always protect government employees when they speak out pursuant to their official capacities—as opposed to as citizens speaking out on matters of public concern.
Here’s how SCOTUSblog interprets the ruling: “This apparently means that employees may be disciplined for their official capacity speech, without any First Amendment scrutiny, and without regard to whether it touches on matters of ‘public concern’—a very significant doctrinal development.”
The Supreme Court today narrowed the First Amendment protections for public employees who reveal perceived wrongdoing they happen to observe in the course of doing their jobs.
The decision enhances the ability of governments at all levels to punish employees for speaking out, shielding officials in many instances from lawsuits for violating the right to free speech.
It does not interfere with federal or state laws that independently protect the actions of whistleblowers.