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 See Pickering v. Board of Educ., 391 U.S. 563, 88 S. Ct. 1731, 20 L. Ed. 2d 811 (1968). Pickering balancing is never a precise mathematical process: it is a method of analysis by which a court compares the relative values of the things before it. A person often knows that 'x' outweighs 'y' even without first determining exactly what either 'x' or 'y' weighs. And it is this common experience that illustrates the workings of a Pickering balance.

 Pickering balancing, in the public employment context, involves the weighing of the employee's interest in the exercise of a constitutional right against the employer's interest in maintaining an efficient workplace. The employee has exercised a constitutional right, and the employer, concluding that such exercise seriously has impaired, or will impair, the ability of the workplace to function properly, makes an employment decision adverse to the employee. In order to decide whether the employer's decision was justified, the court places the interest of the employer on one side of a 'scale' and the interest of the employee on the other side. If the employer's interest outweighs the employee's, the employer prevails. Pickering balancing does not apply where ...

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