The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:
Correctional officer is terminated for his association with
the Ku Klux Klan.
Are Defendants entitled to qualified immunity? Yes.
Wallace Weicherding ("Weicherding") was employed by the
Illinois Department of Corrections ("DOC") for more than 13
years. He worked first as a correctional officer and then as
a sergeant at the Graham Correctional Center ("Graham"). In
1992, while employed by the Department of Corrections,
Weicherding attended a Ku Klux Klan rally, although he did not
actually join the Klan until after his termination from DOC in
Weicherding claims that he never talked about the Ku Klux
Klan to any staff member at Graham but that during the week of
August 12, 1993, he did answer questions initiated by Tom L.
Babicky, head of the gang control unit for the Department of
Corrections, including giving information that a Ku Klux Klan
rally was going to be held in the fall in Greenville or
Vandalia. Additionally, Weicherding participated — during
non-working hours-in distributing literature to the public to
inform them about the goals and ideals of the Ku Klux Klan and
inform them that a rally was to be held on September 18, 1993
at his home. Weicherding also appeared on television announcing
the September 18 rally.
On or about September 2, 1993, Defendant Kenneth P. Dobucki
("Dobucki"), the Warden of Graham, initiated an investigation
of Weicherding by the Investigations Unit of the Department of
Corrections. Then, about October 7, 1993, Defendants Howard C.
Peters III ("Peters"), the Director of the Department of
Corrections, and Warden Dobucki received the investigation
report. The report was based on interviews with other
correctional officers and concluded that Weicherding attempted
to recruit employees of Graham to attend the Ku Klux Klan
rally at his residence and distributed pamphlets. It also
concluded that Weicherding had openly expressed racial beliefs
by stating the phrases "Weiss Macht" (white power), "W.P." or
"Wilson Pickett," along with giving Ku Klux Klan hand signals
to employees. The report also noted Weicherding's appearance
on television when he expressed his association with the Ku
Klux Klan and promoted the rally.
On October 22, 1993, Defendant David Riegel, the Assistant
Warden, referred Weicherding to the employee review officer
for a hearing on the charge that Weicherding violated
Department Rule 120.30, which reads:
Individuals shall conduct themselves in a manner
which will not reflect unfavorably on the
Department, and shall not engage in conduct which
is unbecoming or impairs the operations of the
Weicherding was terminated in November 1993.
Other than some comments by inmates, there were no
disruptions at Graham because of Weicherding's beliefs. No
incident reports were written up about any of the inmates'
Weicherding claims he did not talk about the Ku Klux Klan to
any staff at Graham, did not distribute literature at Graham,
and did not display any Klan signals to other Klan members.
Furthermore, Weicherding claims that no disruption at the
prison occurred because of his beliefs.
Weicherding brought this action against Riegel, Dobucki, and
Peters claiming that he was terminated in violation of his
First Amendment right of association. The Defendants filed a
motion for summary ...