Heffernan v. City of Paterson was a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning
the First Amendment rights of public employees, decided on April 26,
2016. Jeffrey Heffernan, a detective with the Paterson, New Jersey,
police force, was seen with a lawn sign for the candidate challenging
the city’s incumbent mayor. Heffernan’s supervisors mistakenly thought
that he was actively supporting the challenger and demoted him. He
brought suit alleging that his demotion violated his right to free
speech. Writing for a majority of the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen
Breyer (pictured) cited the Court’s precedents, which had held that it
is unconstitutional for a government agency to discipline an employee
for engaging in partisan political activity, as long as that activity is
not disruptive to the agency’s operations. Even if Heffernan was not
actually engaging in protected speech, he wrote, the discipline against
him sent a message to others to avoid exercising their rights. Justice
Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Samuel
Alito, in which he agreed that Heffernan had been harmed but not that
his constitutional rights had been violated.
Today’s selected anniversaries:
American Revolutionary War: Sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington
(statue pictured) rode forty miles through the night to warn militiamen
under the control of her father that British troops were planning to
invade Danbury, Connecticut.
U.S. Army soldiers cornered and fatally shot John Wilkes Booth,
the assassin of US President Abraham Lincoln, in rural northern
Virginia, ending a twelve-day manhunt.
World War II: Both the German and Polish–Soviet sides claimed
victory as major fighting in the Battle of Bautzen ended.
An editorial was published in the People’s Daily denouncing the
growing unrest in Tiananmen Square, which would remain contentious
through the remainder of the protests.
Controversy surrounding the relocation of the Bronze Soldier of
Tallinn, a Soviet Red Army World War II memorial in Tallinn, Estonia,
erupted into mass protests and riots.
Wiktionary’s word of the day:
(electrical engineering) The electrical load caused by all systems on a
vehicle (especially a marine vessel or a truck) other than propulsion.
Wikiquote quote of the day:
Weaknesses in men of genius are usually an exaggeration of their
personal feeling; in the hands of feeble imitators they become the most
flagrant blunders. Entire schools have been founded on
misinterpretations of certain aspects of the masters. Lamentable
mistakes have resulted from the thoughtless enthusiasm with which men
have sought inspiration from the worst qualities of remarkable artists
because they are unable to reproduce the sublime elements in their work.
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