Friday, November 15, 2013

United States v. National Treasury Employees Union case brief

United States v. National Treasury Employees Union case brief summary
513 U.S. 454 (1995)

Petitioner United States challenged a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which affirmed a decision granting summary judgment in favor of respondent government employees in a case challenging the constitutionality of the honoraria provisions of 5 U.S.C.S. § 501 et seq.

Respondents, government employees, challenged the constitutionality of the honoraria ban of5 U.S.C.S. § 501 et seq., which prohibited federal employees from accepting compensation for making speeches or writing articles even when the speech had no connection with the employee's official duties.

The trial court held that the statute was unconstitutional as it applied to executive branch employees and enjoined the government from enforcing the statute against any executive branch employee. The appellate court affirmed.

  • The United States Supreme Court affirmed the injunction against enforcement of the statute as to respondents, but refused to extend it to parties not before the court. 
  • The court held that the speculative benefits that the honoraria ban may have provided the government were not sufficient to justify the burden it imposed on respondents' freedom to engage in expressive activities. 
  • It concluded that 5 U.S.C.S. § 501(b) violated U.S. Constitutional amendment I. It further concluded that a wide-scale injunction was over inclusive.


The Court affirmed an injunction against enforcement of an honoraria ban against respondent government employees but refused to extend the injunction to parties not before the court. It said such wide-scale application of the injunction was overinclusive.

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