Roe v. City of San Diego, 356 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2004)

While working as a San Diego police officer, John Roe videotaped himself stripping off a generic police officer’s uniform and engaging in acts of masturbation. Roe sold the videos on the adults-only section of eBay – under the username “” After one of Roe’s supervisors discovered the videos online and recognized Roe, Roe was fired. Roe sued under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging that his off-duty, non-work-related activities were protected by the First Amendment. The district court dismissed Roe’s claim after concluding that the videos did not address a matter of “public concern” and, therefore, were not protected by the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit disagreed and reversed the judgment, holding that the district court erred by not balancing the San Diego Police Department’s interest in promoting “the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees” against Roe’s free speech interests.