For more than a year, a federal ethics agency has instructed federal employees to steer clear of taking a stand at work for or against the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying that doing so could run afoul of the Hatch Act that bars them from participating in certain political activities.
With Trump now impeached and the subject of a Senate trial, a union representing federal employees says that the controversial legal guidance from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) tramples on workers’ First Amendment rights.
The executive order states that federal agencies in following the
directive shall not infringe upon the First Amendment and its protection
of free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it would be monitoring the administration’s action to ensure that’s the case. “If the administration attempts to undermine that freedom using this order, we will see it in court,” said David Cole, the ACLU’s national legal director.
The Department of Homeland Security violated the First Amendment when it allegedly tracked and interrogated five journalists between 2018 and 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The lawsuit includes accounts by five freelance photojournalists, all of whom are US citizens and were stopped by Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS, while traveling to and from Mexico between November 2018 and January 2019.