Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chip, chip, chip away

By Creature

Today the Bush tilted Supreme Court made it clear that if you blow a whistle in your capacity as a public employee, you will not be protected.

The Supreme Court declared today, in a ruling affecting millions of government employees, that the Constitution does not always protect their free-speech rights for what they say on the job.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the court held that public employees' free-speech rights are protected when they speak out as citizens on matters of public concern, but not when they speak out in the course of their official duties.

Justice Stevens, writing in dissent, explains why this is just dumb:

"The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of one's employment is quite wrong," Justice Stevens wrote. He said the majority ruling could have the "perverse" effect of giving public employees an incentive to speak out publicly, as citizens, before talking frankly to their superiors.

The bold is all mine, because Stevens points out the exact hypocrisy of this conservative ruling. Ever since the initial NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal broke in December the Bushes have been crying foul, and cracking down, because the whistle-blowing spooks went to the media, as opposed to going through the proper channels within the system. So, after today's ruling there is one less incentive for a public employee concerned about illegal activity to go to their superiors. Now if they follow proper channels they are not protected under the Constitution. How will the Bush administration square this ruling with their whistle-blowing fears? They won't, because their desire has always been to curtail the whistle-blower, and not the method by which they blow.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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