Drs. Blanford and Bellville were psychiatrists who worked at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) and were employed by the State of Alaska.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock demanded that Drs. Blanford and Bellville, along with hundreds of other state employees, pledge allegiance to Gov. Dunleavy’s political agenda when Mr. Dunleavy assumed the office of Governor on December 3, 2018.
Drs. Blanford and Bellville refused to swear allegiance to the Dunleavy agenda, believing that their first obligation was to their patients and that making such a pledge would violate their duties as doctors.
Gov. Dunleavy and Mr. Babcock then fired Drs. Blanford and Bellville for their refusal to offer their pledges of allegiance to the new administration.
The right to free speech “includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.” Wooley v.
Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 714 (1977).
“The right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of the broader concept of ‘individual freedom of mind.’” The right not to speak also prohibits the state from compelling its citizens to pledge allegiance to any particular political brand of government.