Article first 4 of the connecticut constitution

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Article first, § 4, of the Connecticut constitution provides: “Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.” Article first, § 14, of the Connecticut constitution provides: “The citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government, for redress or grievances, or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.” The trial court determined that § 31-51q did not protect the plaintiff's expressive activities occurring on his employer's private property because such on-site activities are not “guaranteed by” either the United States constitution or the constitution of this state. In so holding, the trial court primarily relied on Cologne v. Westfarms Associates, 192 Conn. 48, 469 A.2d 1201 (1984). In Cologne, the question was whether the rights of free speech and petition guaranteed by the Connecticut constitution may be exercised on the private property of the defendants, which property consisted of a large regional shopping center. No statute was involved in Cologne and no relationship, such as employer and employee, existed between the plaintiffs and the defendants, nor was any claim made that the speech was not otherwise constitutionally protected. The plaintiffs, relying on §§ 4 and 14 of article first of the state constitution, did not take the position that individuals may exercise their rights of free speech on any private property, but instead, limited their claim to speech activities occurring on private properties with a “uniquely public character.” Id., at 64, 469 A.2d 1201. In analyzing this claim, the Cologne court reviewed the history of the adoption of the Connecticut bill of rights and found “no evidence of any intention to vest in those seeking to exercise such rights as free speech and petition the privilege of doing so upon the property of others.” Id., at 62, 469 A.2d 1201. Accordingly, the court concluded that the free speech and petition rights of the state constitution do not extend to expressive activities exercised on private property against the wishes of the owner, even where the private property is vested with a public character. Id., at 65-66, 469 A.2d 1201. The present case involves the determination of an issue not yet decided by an appellate court of this state. Unlike Cologne, which was based entirely on a constitutional analysis, we are here determining whether § 31-51q provides a cause of action, under the circumstances alleged by the plaintiff, to an employee who is discharged for the exercise of an alleged constitutional right when, without the statute, no remedy or cause of action would be available.
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Spring 2017 LER 590-E: GOVERNMENT REGULATION II 27 | P a g e In other words, the question is whether § 31-51q protects particular speech occurring on the private property of an employer when, pursuant to Cologne, such speech would not otherwise have been protected.
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