• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that patronage dismissals of nonpolicy-making employees infringed on First Amendment rights to political beliefs and association.

In Cook County, Illinois, an elected Democratic sheriff attempted to remove several noncivil service employees who had been appointed by the previous sheriff, a Republican. By a 5-3 vote, the Court upheld a court of appeals judgment for injunction relief. Speaking for a plurality, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,Brennan, William J., Jr.;Elrod v. Burns[Elrod v. Burns] concluded that the First Amendment prohibited patronage dismissals except in policy-making positions. A few years later, the Court expanded the immunity of most noncivil service employees from penalties based on political affiliation in Branti v. Finkel et al.[case]Branti v. Finkel et al.[Branti v. Finkel et al.] (1980) and Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois[case]Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois[Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois] (1990).Assembly and association, freedom of;Elrod v. Burns[Elrod v. Burns]

Assembly and association, freedom of

Political parties

Robel, United States v.

Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois

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