Sunday, June 15, 2008
Nebraska Supreme Court orders new arguments in State Trooper's case. Omaha.com The Nebraska Supreme Court has ordered a second round of oral arguments in the case of a Nebraska State Patrol trooper who was fired for joining a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. In its order, the court told attorneys in the case of Robert E. Henderson to submit additional legal briefs by Aug. 1 and to be ready for a new hearing in September. The court said the attorneys should address four questions in their arguments: collective bargaining agreements, constitutional rights, binding arbitration and legal precedent. Henderson's attorney, Vincent Valentino, said the court's order is not routine but is not unprecedented. He said the four questions give little indication of the court's leanings. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said only that state lawyers would provide the information the court requested. The case began when the State Patrol fired Henderson, of Omaha, for joining the Knights Party, which describes itself as the oldest, largest and most-active Klan organization in the United States. An internal investigation confirmed that Henderson had joined the party and posted messages to an online discussion group for party members. He said he joined as a way to vent his frustrations over his wife leaving him for a Hispanic man. Henderson appealed his firing to an independent arbitrator in 2006, as allowed by the collective bargaining agreement covering state troopers. The arbitrator ruled in his favor, saying that Henderson's firing violated his First Amendment and due process rights. Attorney General Jon Bruning appealed the arbitrator's ruling, arguing that Nebraska's public policy against racism should bar Henderson from being reinstated. Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront upheld Henderson's firing.