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High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights 718

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dark-times-ahead dept.
iminplaya writes "In yet another blow against free speech rights, the Supreme Court decided that government employees who report wrongdoing do not enjoy 1st Amendment rights while on the job. From the article 'The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote [...] The ruling was perhaps the clearest sign yet of the Supreme Court's shift with the departure of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the arrival of Alito. [...] Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said: "The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States."'"
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High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights

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  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:52PM (#15433153)
    Was it just that I was young and naive and believed in a good country that stuck to its principles?

    Yes.

    To the Person Sitting in Darkness - Mark Twain [virginia.edu]

    KFG
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:23AM (#15433263)
    Because they heard this case once before, after O'Conner retired, and before Alito was confirmed, or even named, and it resulted in a 4-4 tie. They reheard it with Alito on the bench, and apparently, the voting for the other eight remained the same.

    Ergo, one could reasonably call Alito the deciding vote.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:30AM (#15433283) Homepage Journal
    Cellabos got in trouble for sending a memo to his superiors with his findings after being assigned to investigate potential misconduct by the Sheriff's Department [northwestern.edu]. When his superiors proceeded with the prosecution anyway he contacted the defense attorney, which was certainly in the interests of justice and maybe even ethically required (any criminal lawyers out there to kill that "maybe" one way or the other?).
  • by schwaang (667808) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:39AM (#15433312)
    A self-described fascist said:
    So did the other eight vote, and then hold off for Alito, or what? How can you definitively say that Alito cast the deciding vote?

    From TFA you didn't read:
    A year ago, O'Connor authored a 5-4 decision that encouraged whistleblowers to report sex discrimination in schools. The current case was argued in October but not resolved before her retirement in late January.

    A new argument session was held in March with Alito on the bench. He joined the court's other conservatives in Tuesday's decision, which split along traditional conservative-liberal lines.
  • by Vengie (533896) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:48AM (#15433340)
    He was ethically bound to report his belief and information that the warrant was facially invalid. There is a section in the dissent that replays the back-and-forth concerning the memo he would produce. (Ultimately his redacted memo.) As an officer of the court, he could not let abuse of process (i.e. a falsely obtained warrant) stand.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:08AM (#15433394)
    Yeah, but China's not communist, either. Last time I checked, the workers didn't own the means of production over there, which pretty much rules out it being communist. It's easy: ask, does the Chinese factory worker have a boss, other than a democratically elected shop manager? If the answer is yes, then it's not a communist state, QED. Whatever labels they put on the owners' doors are irrelevant, whether it's CEO or Chairman or Premier of the Supreme Soviet.
      This is an illustration of how any attempt to bring a top-down reshaping of society via a powerful engine of state is doomed right from the start.
      To sum it up, I submit three great American proverbs: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." and my favorite, "Authoritarian Marxists = teh dumb."

      I think the best label for China would be "Gangsterocracy."
    It's descriptive, accurate, and fun to say!
  • I think (Score:5, Informative)

    by N3wsByt3 (758224) <NewsbyteNO@SPAMfreenethelp.org> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:24AM (#15433445) Homepage Journal
    it's called irony.

    The parent poster was clearly being ironic, and I fail to see how people can miss that (unless you were being double ironic, but I somehow doubt that). Granted, some people recognise this sort of humor quicker than others, but at the time he gave the link to an *US ID* article, the irony should have been obvious to everybody (barring some bible-belt twats).
  • Re:The real shame (Score:3, Informative)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:50AM (#15433513) Journal
    the other candidate in the general election was even more unpalatable to me.

    You should write to whoever deals with your ballots to let them know there was an error on your sheet that made it so only two candidates appeared.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:3, Informative)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:21AM (#15433586)
    Are China and the US becoming more and more like eachother nowadays? It's like this country is moving to a pseudo-communist form of government :(

    There's a little missconception on your comment. Communism is a political ideology which basis itself on economic and social issues, much like capitalism. When we talk about government organization and structure, communist countries have generally opted for the totalitarian and authoritarian forms of government. According to the more recent news, what the US is turning into is a fascist state, where extreme nationalism, militarism and corporatism is prevalent in the ruling party and secret police organizations are used to closely monitor the population to catch "enemies of the state".

    That's why there are similarities between the communist countries. Totalitarian and authoritarian communist states share a lot of common ground with fascist states and their form of government is pretty much a carbon copy of each other.

  • Re:mod parent up! (Score:3, Informative)

    by will_die (586523) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:18AM (#15433731) Homepage
    Lets look at your definition.
    nationalistic intermingling of corporate business and the rich elite and the gouvernmentCongradulations you also just defined communism, except fascism had not problems with various classes in of people. However that is a very poor understanding of both communism and fascism.

    a strong reliance on and glorification of the military not needed for a facist state. Besides look at China or the USSR both big into glorification of the military.
    A far better and more exact definition of fascism can be found by looking in dictionaries and even history. Here is a probably one of the beter ones by Robert O Paxton who wrote _Anatomy of Fascism_
    "Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

    And fighting against this is pretty much the premise of communism, long before even the word fascism existed.
    Huh??
    According the Marx the fighting of communism was against capitalism and the classes of people that resulted from it. It was only later that communism and fascism became bitter enemies, and that was mainly because they were attracting the same type of people; from a capitalist standpoint communism and fasism are two sides of the same coin.
    As for your "examples"
    Mussolini Italy, Hitler Germany correct
    Franco Spain is considered by most political scholars as authoritarism.
    Pinochet Chile is considered a military dictartorship
    Peron Argentinia not even close, try Peronism. when the military junta of Jorge Videla took over they had a very hard "anti-communist" stance against the former Peronism.
    Bush America that explains the changes you made to history and word definitions. When the facts don't back up the reality you want redefine them.
  • by bpd1069 (57573) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:00AM (#15433843) Homepage
    Fascism Anyone?
    Laurence W. Britt
    The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2.
    Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the "Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles" on the inside cover of the magazine. To a secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, so crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism's principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

    We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

    Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

    For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

    Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

    1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

    2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

    3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice--relentless propaganda and disinformation--were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite "spontaneous" acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals
  • by damsa (840364) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:31AM (#15433923)
    Yeah it is a right. It becomes a property right once you get the job, like how the government cannot take away your house without reason and due process, they cannot take away your job without due process.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Informative)

    by Profound (50789) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @05:04AM (#15433995) Homepage
    Instead of Communist, I think you mean totalitarian [wikipedia.org]. Back during the cold war it suited the US govt for people to think of the two as the same, so it's not suprising you are confused.

    Communism is an economic theory, the people currently running the US have opposite beliefs.
  • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:55AM (#15434942) Homepage Journal
    Bah, I suppose it's too much for anyone on slashdot to actually read the ruling in question. The question before the court (and I don't know how it ever got this far to begin with) was whether writings and memos produced during the ordinary course of employment are a form of protected speech. The ruling essentially states that these sorts of writings are subject to ordinary performance evaluations. Furthermore, I don't see how the plantiff had any standing to file the case in the first place as it had already been ruled that he wasn't retaliated against. Also, this ruling has nothing to do with whistleblowers. If you're a government employee and you go to the press to expose some bit of corruption that's still protected.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:11PM (#15437435)
    They were, or at least very close to it. WW2, americians were put into consintration camps by the americian government! (the jappanese), its a prime example of such a state.

    the only thing that seperated americia from true fashisism, is that people were given their rights back afterword, with a few loose ends perhaps.

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