Government workers’ right of privacy restricted by Supreme Court

Government workers’ right of privacy restricted by Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court supported the use of personal background checks for scientists and many thousands of others who work under government contracts, ruling that questions about personal matters and drug use do not break their privacy rights under the Constitution.

The justices took a unanimous decision and rejected a right-to-privacy claim brought in by twenty eight veteran researchers and scientists who worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, located near Pasadena, Calif.

The court made it apparent that they would not stand in the way when the government asked for personal information on those who worked on billion-dollar federal projects.

However, in spite of the setback, privacy advocates were inspired by the fact that the court agreed to the Constitution "protects a privacy right" to personal information.

The director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington named Marc Rotenberg stated that this is good news and extremely important in the information age. Dan Stormer stated that it was a constitutional victory for privacy, even though it was a loss for their clients; Dan is the Pasadena lawyer who represented the JPL scientists.

Since the year of 1953, the government has performed background checks on all who wants to do civil service jobs. After the incident of the 9/11, the Bush administration expanded the required checks to include people working at companies, colleges and even think tanks who worked under government contracts.

The scientists stated that they had nothing to hide; they held jobs which are not high risk ones and they objected to answering personal questions about their private lives. In the process of backgrounds checks, job seekers are asked to fill out a personal questionnaire and former employers and landlords are asked open-ended questions to see if anything problematic cropped up.


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