Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
During the 2008 campaign, Joe, a plumber working near Toledo, asked then-candidate Obama about a proposed tax plan’s impact on Joe’s ability to own a business. The interaction was replayed by national media. Joe later accepted media requests and criticized Obama’s policies, resulting in Senator McCain’s reference to "Joe the Plumber." After Joe’s media moment, employees of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Obama supporters, searched his name in databases and that the Inspector General found no legitimate agency purpose for those searches. Defendants were suspended from their positions. Joe filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging First Amendment retaliation and violation of privacy rights. The district court granted defendants judgment on the pleadings. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff did not suffer sufficient adverse action: he did not suffer a threat to his livelihood, was not defamed, did not endure a search or seizure, and did not experience the public disclosure of embarrassing information. He did not allege continuing investigation or "chilling" of First Amendment rights; "a person of ordinary firmness" would not be deterred or chilled. In his privacy claim, Joe did not identify an interest "fundamental or implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." View "Wurzelbacher v. Jones-Kelley" on Justia Law