Plaintiff-Appellant Michael Andrew, a veteran commander with the Baltimore Police Department, wrote a memorandum to the Police Commissioner expressing serious concerns regarding whether the police had properly handled an incident that resulted in the shooting death of an elderly man barricaded in his apartment. Receiving no response, Andrew contacted a reporter at The Baltimore Sun and provided him a copy of his memorandum to bring the incident to light. The Baltimore Sun then published an article regarding the police shooting, based on Andrew’s views. Following the article’s publication, the Baltimore Police Department removed Andrew from his command position, caused him to lose a stipend, and placed him in a job with reduced responsibility and authority.
Andrew brought a First Amendment retaliation claim, among other claims, in a federal district court in Maryland. The court dismissed his First Amendment claim because it understood the U.S. Supreme Court in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), to rule that a public employee who, because of his employment, learns of government malfeasance and “goes public” after being rebuffed or ignored within his workplace, enjoys no constitutional protection for his speech. Andrew appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Public Citizen, along with four other public interest groups, submitted an amicus brief in the 4th Circuit supporting Andrew and arguing that the district court misunderstood Garcetti and that its decision must be reversed and Andrew’s First Amendment claim reinstated. The Fourth Circuit reversed the dismissal of Andrew’s First Amendment, petition, and procedural due process claims and remanded for further litigation of those claims.