An employee for the Arizona Department of Public Safety refused to change is his sworn testimony before a court and was allegedly fired for refusing to commit perjury. He sued and the court ruled that the state violated his rights, but qualified immunity prevented any recovery of damages from the officials who were responsible.
Here is an excerpt from a letter to USA Today:
I brought suit in federal court for the violation of my First Amendment right to free speech. Everyone I talked to, including many lawyers, said, “They can’t do that. The government can’t order you to change your testimony, then punish you if you still tell the truth.”
Unbelievably, they were wrong.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona agreed there was a violation of my free speech rights but granted the defendants qualified immunity, which means they won’t have to pay monetary damages.
The court ruled that the law was not “clearly established” on whether government employees had a First Amendment right to be free from discipline for in-court testimony offered as part of their job.
Here is a commentary on the case:
Is qualified immunity encouraging blatant lawlessness in government?