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Supreme Court to Decide When Federal Employees Can Blow Whistle to the Media

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When is a federal whistleblower allowed to release sensitive information to the public?

That’s the question before the Supreme Court, which must decide whether a federal air marshal was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle to the media about a security plan that he disliked, the Washington Post reports.

Robert J. MacLean, who was an air marshal in 2003, went to the media after his boss told him to be quiet about budget shortfalls requiring the agency to cut back on overnight trips for undercover air marshals.

After MSNBC began asking questions, Homeland Security canceled the cutbacks and called them “premature and a mistake.”
MacLean, who was fired in 2006, argued that he was protected by whistleblower laws. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed.

“Robert MacLean was a federal air marshal who spoke up about the consequences of a dangerous and possibly unlawful government decision,” wrote Washington lawyer and former deputy solicitor general Neal Katyal.

“Because he blew the whistle, the government changed policy and a potential tragedy was averted. But Mr. MacLean paid a hefty price.”

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