Supreme Court Upholds NASA’s Background Check Practices
January 20, 2011
You might recall that a group of 28 contractors were subjected to background checks they felt were too intrusive. The Ninth Circuit Court in California agreed with their position and ruled the checks unconstitutional and NASA then appealed.
If you read the oral arguments that were made on this case, it was pretty obvious the court was going to rule this way. The contractors argued that their work doesn’t affect national security or isn’t confidential in any way and therefore didn’t warrant what they felt was a violation of their right to privacy. Even during those arguments, the court suggested that there are no privacy protections that would stop NASA from performing the background checks.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s ruling saying that these background checks, which included in-depth interviews with neighbors, co-workers and people they went to school with said, “The government’s interests as employer and proprietor in managing its internal operations, combined with the protections against public dissemination provided by the Privacy Act of 1974, satisfy any [related constitutional privacy issue],”