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Waters v. Churchill

Significance, A Reasonable Belief, She Said She Said, Impact, Whistleblower Protection Act Of 1989


Cynthia Waters, Kathleen Davis


Cheryl Churchill

Petitioners' Claim

That a public hospital employee's speech is not protected by the First Amendment when it disrupts the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the facility.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioners

Lawrence A. Marison

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

John J. Bisbee

Justices for the Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor (writing for the Court), William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

31 May 1994


Upheld the hospital's claim and overturned a lower court's decision prohibiting the hospital from firing an employee based on what was thought to have been said.

Related Cases

  • New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).
  • Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).
  • Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983).
  • United States v. National Treasury Employees Union, 513 U.S. 454 (1995).


Congress and the Nation. Vol. IX: 1993-1996: A Review of Government and Politics. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1998.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1997.
  • Shafroth, Frank. "Cities Gain Modest Protection from High Court Ruling on Speech."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994