The first Monday of October marks the start of a new term for the U.S. Supreme Court, and on Tuesday, the court will hear arguments for NASA V. Nelson, which addresses an employee’s constitutional right to informational privacy. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by 28 scientists and engineers who are contract workers at the NASA-owned Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Following a 2004 presidential directive, the employees there were required to submit to background checks, which included questions about counseling and drug use. The workers objected to the checks, arguing that they violated their right to informational privacy.
“The issue is very important and the question is does the Constitution endow in the government broad intrusive powers into the privacy of citizens without a legitimate state interest?” the counsel of record for the employees, Dan Stormer, told Super Lawyers last Friday. “That is, can they, as a requirement for you to be employed by a third party, require that you give up all information about your medical history, your shopping history, your academic, your financial, all matter of privacy-protected information? At what point may the government do that?”
We may know the answer very soon.