April 17, 2012
An Illustration of BLaw-BNA Content Integration: Does the Petition Clause guarantee a right of reasonable access to the government for a redress of grievances?
In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., John S. Stone Chair and Professor of Law at University of Alabama Law School, wrote
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not accorded the Petition Clause much legal significance. When litigants have pressed Petition Clause claims, the justices have noted that all First Amendment rights are “cut from the same cloth” and thus “are inseparable.”
However, in Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri, a Petition Clause case decided last year, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that there could be cases “where the special concerns of the Petition Clause would provide a sound basis for a distinct analysis” and where the rights of petition and free speech “might differ in emphasis and formulation.”
One of the issues in Borough of Duryea v. Guarnier, 131 S. Ct. 2488, 180 L. Ed. 2d 408, 190 LRRM 3217, 32 IER Cases 481 (2011) [2011 BL 161237] [SCOTUSblog case archive] was whether or not the Petition Clause encompasses petitions seeking redress of private grievances in the context of an employment retaliation claim by a public sector employee against his employer. See Daniel Bell's Argument preview: A tale of two clauses on SCOTUSblog. In an 8-1 decision, SCOTUS rejected the argument the Petition Clause protects such grievances. In Opinion analysis: Limits on “Petition Clause”, SCOTUSblog reporter Lyle Denniston noted
Kennedy [who delivered the opinion] suggested that the Petition Clause, based on its illustrious history going back to Magna Carta in 1215, has probably served the public interest more often when the complaint to the government (or the Crown) was on a matter of “interest to the community as a whole.” When a public employee joins in that kind of appeal to government, with a grievance that might well be shared by other citizens as citizens, the employee can exercise the same right as private citizens, the Court made clear. But if the public employee is only challenging an action taken against him or her in her employee capacity, that is beyond what the Clause will allow, the Court emphasized.
For Krotoszynski, author of Reclaiming the Petition Clause: Seditious Libel, "Offensive" Protest, and the Right to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances (Yale UP, 2012), Borough of Duryea v. Guarnier "suggests that the court could be sympathetic to carefully devised arguments focused on the right to petition." Interesting. Krotosynski new book also sounds interesting.
BLaw-BNA Content Integration. What got my attention in performing some background research on Krotoszynski's op-ed piece because, well, I'm a law librarian (or because, well, I am easily distracted), is that the SCOTUSblog link to the BLaw-open-access to the Borough of Duryea v. Guarnier opinion illustrates how Bloomberg Law is integrating BNA editorial content into its research service.
BNA headnotes with embedded BNA topical classification number links are provided. See image, above right, click to enlarge. The embedded links did not work for me at home (no login prompt), nor at work where I have IP-authenticated access to Bloomberg BNA's Labor & Employment Law Resource Center. But I didn't expect the links to work because of how their URLs display on SCOTUSblog. Beyond SCOTUSblog, my hunch is the links send users to BNA's classification system from within BLaw's online service if one has a license for BLaw. At least, that is what I would expect to see.
Is that how it works?
My bad, no short-term memory left.
I guess the moral of this story is that until BLaw starts pitching sales below the high end of the private sector institutional food chain and academic libraries, the "rest of us" -- med-small law and the public sector -- will only know what's going on with BLaw by way of press releases and second-hand reports from licencees -- some of which offer no professional critical assessment of AALL's 2012 New Product of the Year Award winner. But see Some Quirks in the BNA BLAW Content Merger (academic law librarian) and Bloomberg Law – Same Kool-Aid, Different Flavor (law firm librarian?).
Hey Lou, still not ready to unlease the rest of BLaw-BNA's sales force?
Endnote. Because some folks are asking, "What's next for BNAConvergence?" [JH]