David G. Savage reports that the Supreme Court didn’t seem too favorable to the arguments by Cal Tech scientists’ lawyers in the case that looks at the government’s use of background checks and “informational privacy:”
The Supreme Court gave a skeptical hearing Tuesday to 28 Caltech scientists who are challenging the government’s use of background checks to learn about their personal lives, including past drug use.
They won a ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals saying these open-ended, probing questions violated their constitutional right to privacy. The decision stressed they held “low risk” jobs at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Caltech runs JPL under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Last year, however, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan urged the high court to reverse the ruling. She said it threatened the government’s use of standard background forms that are filled out by millions of public employees as well as by a growing army of private contract workers.
Kagan did not participate in Tuesday’s argument, but all of her new colleagues — with the exception of Justice Sonia Sotomayor — sounded as though they would take her advice and uphold the use of background checks.
Read more in the L.A. Times.