Court Battles

Judge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump

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A federal judge ruled this week that Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) unlawfully fired a state lawyer after she criticized former President Trump on a personal blog.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, in a decision published on Thursday, ruled that attorney Elizabeth Bakalar’s free speech rights were violated when she was fired. Sedwick stated that the state did not prove that Bakalar’s posts, including one in which she refers to the former president as a “treasonous, semi-literate, lecherous oligarch,” affected her duties as assistant attorney general.

When Dunleavy took office in 2018, he required several state employees to submit resignations with explanations as to why they should keep their positions. Bakalar was one of two lawyers who worked in the attorney general’s office who was not rehired, Reuters reported.

Tuckerman Babcock, who served as Dunleavy’s chief of staff and is a defendant in the case, reportedly testified that he did not rehire Bakalar due to the tone of her resignation letter. He also stated that he was moderately aware that she had a personal blog.

Sedwick said on Thursday that the reason for Bakalar’s firing was tied to her strong opinions, according to Reuters.

“[Dunleavy’s office] could not have reasonably believed that it was legally appropriate to make political loyalty a requirement of plaintiff’s job,” he reportedly said.

Sedwick also granted Bakalar summary judgment and requested an update from both sides within two weeks regarding damages she may be owed and outstanding issues, the news outlet noted.

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