New opinion — no clearly established First Amendment protection for elected officials’ speech

Werkheiser v. Pocono Twp.  — First Amendment qualifed immunity — reversal — Cowen

Harold Workeiser was an elected township supervisor who also worked for the township as roadmaster. His fellow township supervisors decided not to reappoint him as roadmaster; he sued, alleging that they were retaliating against him for policy positions he took as supervisor. The township moved to dismiss based on qualified immunity, and the district court denied the motion.

Today, the Third Circuit reversed, holding that the township was entitled to qualified immunity because it is not clearly established that an elected official’s speech is protected by the First Amendment, nor is a First Amendment right to be free of retaliation clearly established on the facts here.

Joining Cowen were Vanaskie and Greenberg. Arguing counsel were Steven Hoffman for the township and Cletus Lyman for the ex-roadmaster.