Washington, D.C. On Wednesday October 12, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Garcetti v. Ceballos, a major whistleblower case with the potential to devastate long standing whistleblower rights. The Supreme Court is reviewing a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision which protected a government whistleblower who disclosed that a deputy sheriff had lied in a search warrant affidavit.
In the case, the Ninth Circuit held that “when government employees speak about corrupt ion… by other government employees… their speech is inherently a matter of public concern” and is protected under the First Amendment. Los Angeles County is seeking to overturn that holding and deny whistleblowers their First Amendment Rights.
In a highly troubling development, the Solicitor General filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the United States in opposition to whistleblower rights. The Bush Administration urged the Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s decision which will effectively nullify existing law protecting employees who blow the whistle concerning work-related corruption.
Stephen Kohn, Chairman of the National Whistleblowers Center, made the following statement:
“If the lower court’s decision is reversed, government employees will be stripped of their Constitutional protections under the First Amendment. Public employees, who disclose to superiors incidents of government corruption, abuse, and fraud within their workplace – such as stealing from taxpayers, lying under oath, or putting innocent defendants in prison – will be stripped of their whistleblower rights. Worse, employees who make such disclosures at work could be fired simply for blowing the whistle.”
“We are extremely dismayed that the Bush Administration has chosen not to protect whistleblowers. The position advocated by the Solicitor General will reverse thirty years of law and undermine traditional First Amendment protections afforded state employees.”