In case you were wondering, Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the rights of public employees who are "whistle-blowers" is extraordinarily similar to the argument Immanuel Kant makes in "What Is Enlightenment?":
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Justice Kennedy's opinion drew a formal distinction between two kinds of speech by public employees: statements they make "pursuant to their official duties" and those made as citizens contributing to "the civic discourse." The first category was not protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, Justice Kennedy said, while the second retained "the prospect of constitutional protection."It should be noted that Kant was living in the absolutist state of Prussia when he wrote his essay, making a bit of butt-kissing prudent. I like to think that, were he to visit us from the beyond, he would take the recently deceased Lloyd Bentsen's most famous statement as a model. "I knew Frederick the Great, Mr. President, and you're no Frederick the Great."
The dissenting justices warned that this distinction would often be unclear in practice and difficult for lower courts to apply.
"The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of one's employment is quite wrong," Justice John Paul Stevens said in a dissenting opinion.
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