In Bridges v. Gilbert, the Seventh Circuit considered the question of whether prisoners' free speech, like the free speech of public employees, must involve a matter of public concern to receive First Amendment protection against governmental retaliation. Instead of holding that a prisoner's speech must involve a matter of public concern, the Seventh Circuit drew on the Supreme Court's unexamined and indeterminate test in Pell v. Procunier to hold that prisoners retained those free speech rights not inconsistent with their status as a prisoner or the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system. This Comment traces the evolution of the Court's prisoner and public employee free speech jurisprudence. Then, it discusses the approaches taken by the federal circuits, especially the Seventh Circuit, to prisoners' free speech retaliation claims. Finally, this Comment argues that while the Seventh Circuit's decision in Bridges arguably conformed to Court precedent, the Seventh Circuit should have considered developing a test balancing the prisoner's speech on a matter of public-penological concern against the government's legitimate penological interests in restricting the prisoner's speech.
Matthew D. Rose,
Prisoners and Public Employees: Bridges to a New Future in Prisoners' Free Speech Retaliation Claims,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol5/iss1/6