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Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.497 U.S. 62, 110 S. Ct. 2729, 111 L. Ed. 2d 52, 5 IER Cases 673 (1990)

Brief Fact Summary. After the Governor of Illinois issued a hiring freeze regarding public employees, five people brought suit claiming they had been denied certain employment opportunities due their political beliefs.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. This case stands for the proposition that political administrations cannot punish employees or keep them from advancement merely because they do not politically align with the administration.


Facts. The Governor of Illinois issued a hiring freeze, giving his office control over hiring and promotions of governmental employees. Five people brought suit claiming they had been denied advancement opportunities, employment, or the ability to return to work after a lay-off because they did not politically align with the views of the administration.
The district court dismissed the claims of the Petitioners, Rutan and others (Petitioners). The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) granted certiorari to hold whether their decisions in prior cases (Elrod and Branti, both of which held that dismissals based on political viewpoints were tantamount to a violation of an individual’s First Amendment constitutional rights), extended to employment decisions regarding low-level public employees.

Issue. The issue in this case is whether the doctrine of Elrod and Branti can be extended to these Petitioners who were not dismissed, but who claim other grievances due to their lack of political congruence.

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