Border Patrol Agent Fired For Supporting Drug Legalization Files Lawsuit

By Yashwanth Manjunath

In October 2009, Border Patrol agent Bryan Gonzalez was fired for expressing his views on drug legalization to fellow agent Shawn Montoya. Gonzalez told Montoya in April of 2009 that “legalization of drugs would end the drug war and related violence in Mexico,” adding that “the drug problems in America were due to American demand for drugs supplied by Mexico.” He is now suing Border Patrol with the help of the ACLU of New Mexico for his job back.

Gonzalez was unquestionably fired for his comments about the War on Drugs. While serving from October 2007 until September 2009, he consistently received excellent performance reviews. Furthermore, his letter of termination specifically referenced his comments to Montoya and how they were “contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps.”

Regardless of what people think about the War on Drugs, terminations specifically because of dissenting political speech certainly have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of law enforcement officers. And how are we to evaluate the effectiveness of current drug policy if law enforcement officials responsible for actually implementing the laws are not allowed to give dissenting opinions?