Whistleblowers aren’t constitutionally protected
The Supreme Court made life a bit tougher for government whistleblowers Tuesday, saying the First Amendment doesn’t protect public employees who disclose waste and fraud as part of their jobs.
By a 5-4 margin, the justices said that the government’s interest in effectively managing operations outweighs the interests that protect employee speech, even in cases where employees may be reporting inefficiencies or wrongdoing.
The ruling leaves public employees – about 20 million at the local, state and federal levels – significantly more prone to retaliation from their employers if they speak out in ways that displease their bosses.
In a departure from previous court rulings, Tuesday’s decision focused on the role that employees play when whistle-blowing, rather than the content of their speech. Writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy said employees who speak out while acting in an official capacity essentially forfeit the First Amendment rights they have as citizens, no matter what they say.
I have always been told that I have a right to free speech, but that I don’t have a right to be employed at _____ Company. In fact, when I worked for the MNDaily this blog was actually monitered for any improper speech (I wasn’t allowed to criticize the MNDaily w/o permission). It’s a good thing that public employees are subject to the same rules (at least, some of the same rules) that us in the private sector have to deal with.
Also, shouldn’t whistleblowing be an altruistic action?
Good work Court de Roberts y Scalito.
Filed under: Law