Allman v. Smith, No. 14-1792 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Former employees of an Indiana city sued the mayor and the city under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the mayor had fired them because of their political affiliations, in violation of their First Amendment rights. The mayor responded that political affiliation was a permissible qualification for their jobs. The district judge granted summary judgment in favor of the mayor with respect to nine of the 11 plaintiffs, on the ground that his argument concerning political qualification for their jobs was sufficiently arguable to entitle him to qualified immunity, but declined to certify interlocutory appeal with respect to the other two plaintiffs. The Seventh Circuit stayed proceedings pending interlocutory appeal of the issue of qualified immunity, reasoning that whether a job is one for which political affiliation is a permissible criterion presents a question of law. Qualified immunity is an entitlement not to stand trial or face the other burdens of litigation. The privilege is an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability; like an absolute immunity, it is effectively lost if a case is erroneously permitted to go to trial.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on June 24, 2015.