Supreme Court curbs protections for whistle-blowers By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press
The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote.
In a victory for the Bush administration, justices said the 20 million public employees do not have free-speech protections for what they say as part of their jobs.
Critics predicted the impact would be sweeping, from silencing police officers who fear retribution for reporting department corruption, to subduing federal employees who want to reveal problems with government hurricane preparedness or terrorist-related security.
Supporters said that it will protect governments from lawsuits filed by disgruntled workers pretending to be legitimate whistle-blowers. [mjh: a rampant problem, as we all know.] …
“Official communications have official consequences, creating a need for substantive consistency and clarity. Supervisors must ensure that their employees’ official communications are accurate, demonstrate sound judgment, and promote the employer’s mission,” Kennedy wrote.
Justice David Souter’s lengthy dissent sounded like it might have been the majority opinion if O’Connor were still on the court. “Private and public interests in addressing official wrongdoing and threats to health and safety can outweigh the government’s stake in the efficient implementation of policy,” he wrote. Souter was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.