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Okay for Sheriff to Fire Political Candidate

The Sheriff told his staff that if any of them ran against him, opposed his re-election, or was in any way disloyal to him, they would be fired. The plaintiff said he was running against the Sheriff, and he was fired. Three other employees were fired for supporting him.
The firing of the candidate did not violate the First Amendment right of political affiliation because he was fired for candidacy, not affiliation. At 1252: "The right to political affiliation does not encompass the mere right to affiliate with oneself. ..." Nor does it violate the right of free speech; although candidacy is treated as speech, the Sheriff's interest in effective law enforcement outweighed the candidate's interest in being a candidate.
The firing of jailers and deputy sheriffs did present a First Amendment question as to which defendant was not entitled to summary judgment. See: Jantzen v. Hawkins, 188 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 1999).

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Related legal case

Jantzen v. Hawkins