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Before Torruella, Boudin, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.

In this civil rights suit, appellants allege that a pattern of cronyism and nepotism in the employment decisions of the Boston Fire Department (“BFD” or “Department”) rose to the level of actionable political discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. Appellants Denise Barry, Elizabeth Golden, Patricia McDonough, Elaine Mesiti, Lila Brown, Mary Kane and Judith Kelley are civilian employees of the BFD. Along with another employee,*fn1 they filed suit in Massachusetts state court alleging that certain employment actions affecting their status with the BFD were unconstitutional, tortious, and retaliatory. Specifically, they alleged that, because they chose not to associate politically with a powerful group of individuals at the BFD and in the government of the City of Boston, they were passed over for promotions and other public benefits that they otherwise would have received.

The appellees, defendants below, include the BFD*fn2 and numerous BFD supervisors and former supervisors. After removing the case to federal court, the appellees moved for summary judgment, arguing that no evidence linked the challenged employment decisions to an identifiable political group, cause, or belief. Without elaboration, the district court granted the motion as to the appellants’ federal claims, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and remanded the state law claims to the Massachusetts state court.

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