The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit appears to have adopted the rule that any speech uttered by a governmental employee, in the course of performing the work for which the employee was hired, is per se not a "matter of public concern." A majority of the court relies on its holdings in DiMeglio v. Haines and Boring v. Buncombe Co. Bd. of Educ. for that proposition. That fact was evident in questioning from the en banc panel of the Fourth Circuit during its rehearing of Urofsky v. Gilmore on October 25, 1999. At issue was the constitutional protection afforded state- employed university faculty when accessing content of a lascivious nature from the Internet via state-owned computers. The Commonwealth of Virginia passed an act in 1996, subsequently amended in 1999, that prohibited such use of state-owned and state-leased computers without prior permission of the employee's agency head. Six state-employed faculty members sued the Commonwealth because the Act chilled their abilities to carry out their dual roles as educators and scholars.
Michael D. Hancock,
Why Urofsky v. Gilmore Still Fails to Satisfy,
Rich. J.L. & Tech
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/jolt/vol6/iss3/4