An 18-year Nebraska state trooper is appealing his termination due to his political association with a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. Robert E. Henderson was fired after he disclosed his association with the Knights Party, a group led by racist David Hale. The case before the Nebraska Supreme Court is only the latest in a long line of terminations of police officers for private or politicalassociations during their off-duty hours.
Henderson admitted to his association with the group — which began out of anger at his wife leaving him for an Hispanic man.
After an internal investigation confirmed the association, he was fired in March 2006. Yet, an independent arbitrator from New York ruled in August 2006 that Henderson should not be fired for his political associations.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning appealed that decision and, in a complete abandonment of first amendment principles, Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront upheld Henderson’s firing.
There are some in Nebraska who appear able to separate their personal opinions from their constitutional judgment.
In the oral argument this month, Supreme Court Judge William Connolly asked
“Does the theory of public policy trump freedom of speech and association?”
What makes this story particularly worrisome is the political character of the association. Yet, police departments are now targeting officers with lifestyles or beliefs deemed to be unacceptable, click here.