The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports:
A former air marshal’s whistleblower case against the Transportation Security Administration is getting support from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who say the Obama administration’s legal position would “grant agencies unprecedented power to decide when employees may expose misconduct.”
The Supreme Court is deciding whether a fired air marshal, Robert MacLean, should receive federal whistleblower protections for telling the press in 2003 about a TSA decision to use fewer air marshals on long-distance flights despite warnings of possible hijacking threats. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in May with arguments set for Nov. 4.
The case involves a clash between two sets of federal laws — one protecting the rights of whistleblowers and the other limiting disclosure of sensitive but unclassified information about transportation security.
The Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation of the Whistleblower Protection Act “would allow agency regulations to erode the statutory protections Congress created for whistleblowers,” states a friend-of-the-court brief signed by six lawmakers. “It would deter disclosure of government misconduct and impair Congress’s oversight role.” . . .