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Branti v. Finkel 445 U.S. 507 (1980)

BRANTI v. FINKEL 445 U.S. 507 (1980)

Branti v. Finkel tightened the first amendment restrictions on the use of patronage in public employment first established in Elrod v. Burns (1976). Justice john paul steven ' s majority opinion held that upon taking office a public defender could not constitutionally dismiss two assistants solely because they were affiliated with a different political party. The 6–3 majority held that these dismissals denied the employees' freedoms of belief and association. The employer had failed to show a sufficient connection between party loyalty and effective job performance.

Justice potter stewart dissented, analogizing the public defender's office to private law practice. Justice lewis f. powell, joined by Justice william h. rehnquist, also dissented, reiterating his dissenting view in Elrod that patronage plays an honorable, traditional role in American politics.

Aviam Soifer

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