Lyle Denniston discusses the National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson case that is scheduled for oral argument on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court will explore the concept of “informational privacy” — that is, protection of private and personal facts about an individual — in the context of government background checks. The case of National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson, et al. (09-530) will be argued at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Justice Elena Kagan will not participate.
The NASA case arises at the intersection of two histories: that of the government’s inquiry into the fitness of individuals who seek work with the federal government — a story that goes back to 1871, and the history of the constitutional right of “informational privacy” — a story that began with two Supreme Court decisions in 1977. But there is another story that looms large in the background of the case: the gathering of vast stores of personal information via computer, and its storage in digital databases — with the ever-present threat that such data may at some point become public, perhaps resulting in theft of identity or serious embarrassment.
Read more on SCOTUSBlog. Denniston’s commentary and analysis really clarifies the issues and legal questions.