In what could be an important first amendment case, a Nebraska police officer, Robert E. Henderson, is fighting to keep his job after being fired for his associations with a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. It is only the latest such action taken against officers over their private lives or views.
On one level the case before the Nebraska Supreme Court concerns a technical question of whether a binding arbitration ruling (in favor of Henderson) can be overturned on public policy grounds. However, at its base lies a fundamental question of free speech and association. Henderson should be allowed to have any views or associations so long as they do not interfere with the performance of his job.
Henderson’s problem began when an internal investigation confirmed that he had joined the Klan-affiliated Knights Party. He was fired in March 2006 after 18 years of good service as an officer.
While he won the arbitration, Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront upheld Henderson’s firing.
Notably, another police department recently fired an officer for his off-duty involvement in a porn site with his wife. The department prevailed. Click here
Most people (hopefully) find the association with racist organizations to be reprehensible and disgusting. It is also true that a department has legitimate concerns over such people being able to perform their duties in a non-racist manner. However, the first amendment is not there to protect popular speech or popular associations. So long as there is no evidence that Henderson is acting in a racist manner, he has a right to such views and associations. Otherwise, we can find ourselves on a slippery slope of monitoring officers to ensure that they maintain “appropriate” political and social associations.
For the full story, click here
10 thoughts on “Nebraska Police Officer Fired Over Assocation With KKK-Linked Group”
THE HATE GROUPS ARE NOTHING BUT PEOPLE THAT FEEL LESS THAN OTHER PEOPLE ,THERE SCARED TO FACE THE WORLD ON THERE OWN, PEOPLE WHO ARE MAD TO SEE PEOPLE THAT ARE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES THAT WORK FOR A LIVING AND THEY BUY A CAR THATS BETTER THAN THE THERE CAR ,OR HOUSE WHATEVER IT MAY HAPPEN TO BE THEY THINK THAT THE USA IS THERES WHICH WE ALL NO THAT THE USA IS AN INMIGRANT COUNTRY THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT ARE REALLY FROM HERE ARE THE NATIVE AMERICANS LET THE PEOPLE LIVE LET THEM WORK WE ALL GOT FAMILIES THAT HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE IN A PEACEFULL COUNTRY I HAVE NEVER SEEN A LATINO OR JAPANESE BEATING ON SOMEONE FOR BEING A DIFRENT COLOR SO FOR ALL THEM WHITE PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT WAY LEAVE IT ALONE U WILL NEVER CHANGE THIS COUNTRY
That must have been the officer, or someone just like him, that stopped us for “driving while black” on freeway I-80 as we were making our way from SF to Chicago. He had no probable cause and trumped up a fatuous reason that fell short of reasonable and then ILLEGALLY searched (ransacked) our car. Needless-to-say, he never found ANYTHING, and, although my fiance is Black and I am White, I think he thought he “had something” on us, besides the interracial relationship. I guess bigotry is still alive and well in the heartland of America. We will go to great lengths to avoid traveling through Nebraska ever again. Hopefully when Obama shows his abilities as our new and better President will America realize that color is NOT an issue…the PERSON is.
Being a member of the KKK should no more predicate an unbiased opinion than being a member of a church relecting a BIASED opinion of “turning the other cheek” for murder. It’s the officer’s PERFORMANCE, not his mental attitude that is required. An officer of the law doesn’t have to believe that a law is right to enforce it…he just has to do his job. That’s why we have our OWN beliefs, it’s not the law that “allows” that, it’s nature that allows it. Telling a person that he can’t have his own beliefs and practice them up to the point of a violation of societal/community law is a simple and quite obvious step towards the direction of regulating thought…good luck with that.
The state of Nebraska has a legitimate complaint here and it’s not about former trooper Hendersons personal opinions. It’s about the fact that a police officer has to remain unbias and treat everyone with that same unbias. However the KKK has never been unbias in any of their activities and are nothing more than a group of thugs that hate anyone who they believe to be inferior. The KKK has been involved in some of the worst crimes people have ever known and if it wasn’t for the Federal Goverment constantly investigating them they would once again be out murdering people for the sole purpose of hatred. We have the right to free speech but you don’t have the right to invoke murder, assault, and other crimes with that same speech. Former trooper Henderson joined this KKK group after his wife left him for a mexican fellow, so has it stands now his personal life has just invaded his job. Giving Henderson his job back and placing him out on the street again with a gun and powers to investigate and arrest puts anyone on the KKK hit list at risk.
Further more anyone who could be legitimately arrested by him for a crime has a automatic defense if they are on the KKK’s hit list which leaves the Nebraska state patrol with an officer that has no credibility. This isn’t a person with a job in the private sector, he has a job that is in the public trust. He took an oath to serve and protect the community, and he swore to up hold the constitutions of Nebraska and the United States and all laws there in. Well when you hold a job that is within the publics trust but join a group that go’s against everything you’ve sworn to uphold and defend it’s alot easier to understand. I for one live in Nebraska and if this guy gets his job back it will mean that the KKK was legally allowed to infultrate the Nebraska state patrol and place citizens in grave danger. This guy joined the KKK because his wife left him and it go’s without saying he’s not playing with a full deck and especially when you know your a police officer but you join the KKK…theres a problem. I firmly believe in our rights under the constitution and will die to defend them but my right to free speech doesn’t give me the ability to put others in grave danger. But I also will not stand around and watch my tax dollars be payed out in lawsuits because a KKK member is allowed to be a cop.
“What’s next – censoring students because of their off campus commemts ??” –VC
Your wit too is showing!
We just can’t have criticism by students of their teachers and schools. Even off-campus. Even on vacation in Europe! It just won’t do! It’s disruptive of good order and that is what is most important in these turbulent times: good order.
The case that they cited involving the Police Officer fired for operating an Adult Website – was engaged in a business. In my opinion, the fact that he was operating a business seems to be key factor. Justice Holmes stated this somewhat clearly.
In the Nebraska case though, there is no ‘business’. While his personal actions may cause personal scrutiny, impact advancement, impact the way his neighbors view him or cause some to cease association with him; your point is well taken.
It is very sad, that our leaders have guided our Ship of State into such perilous, life-threatening waters around the Globe, that the importance of cases like this is essentially obscured because of the amount of money the Corporate News Complex can make delivering Political drama, Britney Spears custody battles – or the President doing Soft-shoe on the front porch – 24/7. This is what happens when Lapel Pins become more important than the substantive system they represent.
What’s next – censoring students because of their off campus commemts ??
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