In a case over retaliation against a public employee who was fired after testifying about corruption, the Supreme Court says the man gave testimony as a concerned citizen and should not have been punished. The decision was unanimous, overturning lower courts.
In the case of Lane v. Franks, Edward Lane sued Central Alabama Community College president Steve Franks after Lane was fired from his job leading the school's program for at-risk youth. Lane had determined a state representative was on the program's payroll, despite doing no work for the group. Franks fired him after Lane testified in an ensuing FBI case against the elected official.
The Supreme Court justices ruled that the First Amendment "protects a public employee who provided truthful sworn testimony, compelled by subpoena, outside the course of his ordinary job responsibilities."
will send part of the case back to the lower courts, as the justices said Franks, who has since retired, is entitled to limited immunity due to acting in an official capacity. In that portion of their ruling, they agreed with the lower courts' decisions. The justices are sending Lane's case against the college's current interim leader (who inherited the "official" portion of the lawsuit) back to the lower courts.