Do cops have First Amendment rights? Considering the fact that they are American citizens, with rare exceptions, one would assume the answer would be yes. But then one imagines a uniformed police officer telling a racist joke at a predominantly black community meeting and it gets a little more complicated. There are the issues of “conduct unbecoming,” the fact that police officers are “always on duty,” and let’s not even open the cans of worms that are Facebook and Twitter.
So, it’s very complicated. But surely there are lawyers that would be able to set us straight on this stuff right? After all, we are a nation of laws, not men.
The Wall St. Journal’s Law Blog recently decided to find out exactly what the nature and limitations of police officers’ First Amendment rights are all about.
“The answer is nobody knows,” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told the Law Blog.
That’s because it’s kind of confusing when an off-duty cop, at a fellow officer’s funeral, is protesting as a “private citizen” while in uniform.