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Inc. v. City of Northlake O'Hare Truck Service - Significance, The Patronage System, Elrod, Branti, Rutan, The Case In The Lower Courts

government contractors petitioner chief

Petitioner

O'Hare Truck Service, Inc.

Respondent

City of Northlake

Petitioner's Claim

That the removal of the truck service from the city's list of contractors was based on the owner's support for another political candidate, and therefore abridged his freedom of association.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Harvey Grossman

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Gary Feiersel

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy (writing for the Court), Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter

Justices Dissenting

Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas

Place

Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

28 June 1996

Decision

The Court reversed the lower courts' rulings that free speech protections do not extend to government contractors, and remanded the case to the lower courts.

Impact

While this ruling may increase the risk of lawsuits against government employers, it also protects the freedoms of speech and association for independent contractors. These freedoms are particularly important in the late 1990s when government is contracting out more and more jobs.

Related Cases

  • Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).
  • Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976).
  • Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. 507 (1980).
  • Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983).
  • Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62 (1990).
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