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Brazil-Breashears

April 19, 1995

KAREN BRAZIL-BREASHEARS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

MICHAEL BILANDIC, CHARLES FREEMAN, JAMES HEIPLE, BENJAMIN MILLER, MARY ANN MCMORROW, MOSES HARRISON, JOHN NICKELS, JUSTICES OF THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT, AND GEORGE CENAR, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 93 C 6589--Ann Claire Williams, Judge.

Before BAUER, KANNE, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED OCTOBER 31, 1994

DECIDED APRIL 19, 1995

On September 14, 1993, Karen Brazil-Breashears, a staff attorney for the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District, began circulating a petition to enable her to be placed on the ballot for the March 15, 1994 primary election to the Circuit Court of Cook County. According to Brazil-Breashears' complaint, a number of co-workers assisted her in circulating petitions for her candidacy.

A couple weeks later, on October 1, 1993, the Supreme Court of Illinois issued an employment policy (the Policy) prohibiting all state judicial employees from engaging in a number of political activities. The Policy states:

State-paid Judicial Branch employees serving the Supreme, Appellate and Circuit Courts shall not:

(1) become a candidate for nomination, or election to, or accept appointment to any public office;

(2) hold any office in or solicit funds for any political organization; or

(3) publicly endorse, publicly oppose, or solicit funds for candidates for public office.

Any employee who engages in any of the above activity shall be deemed to have vacated his or her position and shall be discharged.

On November 18, 1993, the Policy was amended to allow employees to request to take an unpaid leave of absence to engage in political activities. Such request is not to "be unreasonably denied. A request for a leave of absence may, however, be denied if it would substantially interfere with operational needs of the Courts or the Administrative Office." Brazil-Breashears acknowledges in her complaint that the policy was not instituted in direct response to her attempted candidacy.

George Cenar, Brazil-Breashears' direct supervisor, informed her of the Policy on October 4, and shortly thereafter, Brazil-Breashears and her co-workers ceased their efforts to place Brazil-Breashears on the March 15 primary ballot. Brazil-Breashears alleges she ceased her efforts because of the Policy. On October 23, 1993, Brazil-Breashears filed this lawsuit against the Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court and Cenar. The complaint alleges that the Policy unconstitutionally infringes her First Amendment right to free speech, violates her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection, and constitutes an improper ex post facto order. *fn1 Brazil-Breashears sought a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and asked that the policy be struck down.

The district court denied Brazil-Breashears' TRO and, in response to Defendants' 12(b)(6) motion, dismissed the complaint. We review de novo the district court's decision to dismiss Brazil-Breashears' complaint. Bethlehem ...


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