Federal Government Infringing on Employees’ Free Speech?
Article from Reason by Joe Setyon.
Employees of the federal government were warned this week that both praising and criticizing the Trump administration while on duty may be considered illegal. Federal workers are specifically barred from “advocating” for or against impeachment and from expressing support for the so-called “resistance” to President Donald Trump.
Such expressions could be considered violations of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that largely prohibits federal workers from engaging in political activity while on the clock or in their official capacity as a government employee. In a memorandum released Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel (no relation to Robert Mueller’s Russia probe) Hatch Act unit explains what kind of speech should be avoided.
The memo goes on to warn against activity related to such words and phrases as “#resist,” “the resistance,” and “#resistTrump.” Such terms, the memo points out, are clearly associated with efforts to oppose the Trump administration’s policies. Since Trump has already announced his reelection bid, the Office of Special Counsel assumes that “the use or display of” those terms “and similar statements is political activity unless the facts and circumstances indicate otherwise.” The agency notes that there’s nothing wrong with using those words in a clearly apolitical context.
Some experts have expressed concern that the new directive could infringe on free speech. “This goes beyond past guidance about what partisan political activity is, and is more restrictive of speech of federal employees than past guidance that I’ve been able to find,” Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, tells The New York Times. “I think their legal analysis is wrong in this attempt to outlaw all discussion of impeachment of Trump in the federal workplace. Maybe that is a good idea, maybe that is a bad idea, but I don’t think that is what the Hatch Act requires.”
Read the entire article at Reason.
If this applies to all government employees, then this should also hold true for our senators and congress. Although they are elected by states they are paid by the federal government making them federal employees.
Anyone who thinks that this violates Free Speech, has obviously never been in the military. No company or employer has to put up with employees bad mouthing the people who give them a paycheck. If they don’t like where they work, then they can damn well go work someplace else!
I’m 87 and the Hatch Act was in use most of my lifetime, so I find most of what is happening today by federal employees [and many politicians] to be offensive. Even Hollywood actors and actresses used diplomacy during motion picture’s heyday, but the hatred we see today will surely put an end to many of their careers since many of us are offended by the filth which comes from their mouths. Sad to say. Chuck
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
If they are federal employees, talking about impeaching Trump is Treason. Aren’t these all college educated people. Don’t they understand the difference between free speech and treason?? If these kind of people work for the government, I pity Trump, having all these rotten apples in his basket:(
This is NOT a free speech issue. NO employee has unfettered speech in the workplace. I was a federal employee almost all of my working career and while in the workplace was speech restricted. On my own time I could do whatever I wanted politically.
I was a federal employee also and the Hatch Act was no problem for me. I just did my job the best I could during duty hours and b**ch on my on time about fraud, waste and abuse by the current administration’s shortfalls. When they tried to disallow The Holy Bible in our workplace at one time, I bought a bigger Bible and they backed down.