Quantcast
Published On: Thu, Dec 21st, 2017

Judge rules Atlanta firing Kelvin Cochran was unconstitutional

A federal district court ruled Wednesday that city of Atlanta rules which led to the termination of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran are unconstitutional. The court found that the city’s policies restricting non-work speech, like a book for Christian men that Cochran wrote, are too broad and allow city officials to unconstitutionally discriminate against views with which they disagree.

gavel judge court case ruling

photo by Okan Caliskan via Pixabay

“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court on behalf of Cochran last month. “In addition, as the court found, the city can’t leave such decisions to the whims of government officials. This ruling benefits not only Chief Cochran, but also other employees who want to write books or speak about matters unrelated to work. Atlanta can no longer force them to get permission or deny them permission just because certain officials disagree with the views expressed.”

With regard to the city’s “pre-clearance” rules, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia wrote in its decision in Cochran v. City of Atlanta, “This policy would prevent an employee from writing and selling a book on golf or badminton on his own time and, without prior approval, would subject him to firing. It is unclear to the Court how such an outside employment would ever affect the City’s ability to function, and the City provides no evidence to justify it…. The potential for stifled speech far outweighs an unsupported assertion of harm.”

The court added that provisions within the rules “do not set out objective standards for the supervisor to employ.” “This does not pass constitutional muster,” the court concluded.

Cochran wrote a 162-page devotional book on his personal time that briefly mentions his Christian views on sex and marriage. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran for 30 days without pay and announced that he would have to complete “sensitivity training.” Reed then fired him, even though a city investigation concluded that he did not discriminate against anyone.

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter

* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd ) [ALL INFO CONFIDENTIAL]

About the Author

- The generic Dispatch designation, used primarily for press releases or syndicated content, but may be used for guest author requesting a generic nomenclature

Tags
Displaying 2 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Tom Rath says:

    The court found that the city was, however, within its rights to fire the chief and did NOT violate his rights to due process, free speech or religious freedom.

    The lone finding in the chief’s favor was the braodness of the city’s “pre-clearance” rules and their constitutionality.

    • Brandon Jones says:

      The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia found the city’s policies restricting non-work speech are too broad and allow city officials to discriminate against views with which they disagree.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter



Recent Posts

How is a Car Accident Claim Filed? And Other Questions A Lawyer Can Answer

January 27, 2023, Comments Off on How is a Car Accident Claim Filed? And Other Questions A Lawyer Can Answer

The Best Uses for a Home Equity Loan

January 24, 2023, Comments Off on The Best Uses for a Home Equity Loan

Top 8 Reasons to Get an Outdoor Kitchen

January 22, 2023, Comments Off on Top 8 Reasons to Get an Outdoor Kitchen

How is a Christian Wedding Invite Different than a Secular Wedding Invite

January 16, 2023, Comments Off on How is a Christian Wedding Invite Different than a Secular Wedding Invite

Fun and Unusual Ways to Encourage Kids to Stay Healthy

January 12, 2023, Comments Off on Fun and Unusual Ways to Encourage Kids to Stay Healthy

Health Carousel Honors Dr Franklin Shaffer with the DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award

January 12, 2023, Comments Off on Health Carousel Honors Dr Franklin Shaffer with the DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award

5 Reasons Why Truck Accident Claims Are More Complicated

January 10, 2023, Comments Off on 5 Reasons Why Truck Accident Claims Are More Complicated
nft blockchain

What You Need to Know About NFTs as We Enter 2023

January 7, 2023, Comments Off on What You Need to Know About NFTs as We Enter 2023

Categories

Archives