UPDATE: Casey Copeland, the state contractor who was fired after emailing his state legislator to criticize her vote on a bill, has had his state contract reinstated permanently. The initial preliminary injunction barring state officials from terminating Mr. Copeland’s contract was made permanent by a federal district court on Tuesday, October 19. In addition to making the injunction permanent, the Court also reduced fees and court costs. The original release is below.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal district court in Arkansas granted a preliminary injunction today on behalf of state contractor Casey Copeland whose contract was terminated because he emailed his state legislator to criticize her stance and vote on state legislation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and cooperating attorneys Bettina E. Brownstein and Johnathan D. Horton filed a lawsuit on behalf of Copeland in June. It asserts state officials violated Copeland’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
“Today’s decision reinforces that we must hold our state leaders accountable and fight together to protect our first amendment rights,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “State legislators may not like hearing from constituents who are unhappy with their actions, but they can’t use the power of the state to retaliate against people because they disagree with them on a certain issue.”
“I’m relieved the court reinstated my contract so I can get back to work protecting the rights, well-being, and opportunities of Arkansas foster children,” said Casey Copeland. “A citizen's right to political speech is essential to our democracy and no one should be afraid of speaking their mind to their elected representative on issues that impact their friends, family, and state.”