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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


O'Hare Truck Service, Inc.


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


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

28 June 1996


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.


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).

Additional topics

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