• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the authority to limit political activities of public employees, notwithstanding their loss of freedom of speech.

Executive agency employees challenged the Hatch Act of 1940, which forbade executive branch officers and employees from exercising their freedom of speech by endorsing candidates and engaging in political campaigning. The Supreme Court reviewed precedents going back decades to establish that the individual right to freedom of speech needed to be balanced against the public’s interest in having civil servants barred from direct political participation. Justice Stanley F. ReedReed, Stanley F.;United Public Workers v. Mitchell[United Public Workers v. Mitchell] wrote the opinion for the 4-3 majority in a case in which Justices Frank Murphy and Robert H. Jackson did not participate. Justice William O. Douglas concurred in part but found the statute was excessively vague. Justice Hugo L. Black wrote a strong dissent, arguing that the Hatch Act deprived millions of U.S. civil servants of their right to freedom of speech.Speech, freedom of;United Public Workers v. Mitchell[United Public Workers v. Mitchell]

Buckley v. Valeo

First Amendment

Political parties

Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois

Speech and press, freedom of

Categories: History