Did Trump Violate Free Speech with His EPA Gag Order? No.

 

Donald Trump First Amendment, Donald Trump free speech, Donald Trump EPA gag order

Donald Trump signing his Dakota Access Pipeline executive order. (Getty)

 

Donald Trump caused a stir January 24 when he ordered that the Environmental Protection Agency immediately cease all media updates, including press releases, blog updates, and posts via the agency’s official social media channels. The decision caused quite a bit of controversy, and drew references to violations of free speech:

However, Trump’s orders are not a violation of free speech, according to attorney Ken White, who writes on First Amendment and criminal justice issues. “There’s no First Amendment right to use your federal employer’s platform to express yourself,” says White, “unless your employer generally throws it open for that purpose.  And agencies don’t have rights.” The EPA is a federal agency whose parent is the Executive Branch, headed by the President, and as such is bound to heed his commands regarding speech.

The order does not extend to the commentary of EPA employees via personal means of communication, who enjoy far more protections under the Constitution and relevant case law. The Supreme Court’s 1982 ruling in Connick v. Myers held that employees of government agencies at any level enjoy protection from adverse employment action when commenting on a matter of public concern rather than internal employment matters. Barring the release of any proprietary EPA information, EPA employees are free to communicate with the public.

The issue comes after several federal agency Twitter accounts seemingly defied the President’s positions and statements, including from the National Park Service, which received similar orders:

The issue also underscores tensions between the agency primarily charged with addressing climate change and a new Chief Executive’s longstanding skepticism on the matter.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered no further information but said the administration was “looking into it” and promising further updates as he received them.

10 Comments

10 Comments

Anonymous

His executive orders are rocking the boat, but these draconian measures won’t amount to much after 4 years when they are undone. This is because Trump won’t release his tax records, which indicates that he’s not interested in a 2nd term.

Anonymous

It was okay for the Democrats to bring in thousands upon thousands of refugees and refuse to let anyone know where they were put !
The governors of the states demanded to know where they were being placed but Obama refused to tell them .
I wonder why ?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Why would a governor need to know where refugees are? What if they move; does the governor need to know that, too? Does the governor need to know when they have children? When they die? What else does the governor need to know about them?

All you folks who moan about the government knowing too much, are happy to have the government spy on “other people,” but not on you.

Go spy on your neighbor and report to your governor. It’ll give you something to do with all your spare time.

Grob Hahn (@GrobHahn)

He KNOWS the real turncoats won’t be able to help themselves. They’re likely setting up fake accounts now, as if IT guys can’t figure it out. It’s a mole hunt.

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