On October 1, CIR filed a reply brief on behalf of Salvatore Davi before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2016, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, a New York social services agency, suspended and demoted Davi from his position as a hearing officer for welfare disputes because he criticized welfare policy in a private Facebook conversation. Davi filed suit under the First Amendment, and earlier this year, a U.S. District Court ruled in his favor. On March 25, the OTDA appealed the decision. It argued that it legitimately punished Davi to avoid creating the appearance of bias against welfare recipients.
CIR’s reply explains that Davi’s comments were private speech on a matter of public concern and thus protected under the First Amendment. Further, his comments did not lead to a single complaint or request for recusal. Accordingly, the OTDA had no reason to believe that Davi’s comments would make the agency appear biased. Instead, the facts show that the OTDA punished Davi because officials disapproved of his criticism of welfare policy.