On January 21, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean.
The question in this case concerns the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act, which prevents the government from terminating an employee for revealing “any violation of any law, rule, or regulation” or “a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety”--unless that revelation is "specifically prohibited by law." The question here is whether a federal air marshal’s disclosure that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had decided to cut costs by removing air marshals from certain long-distance flights was a disclosure “specifically prohibited by law.”
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 7-2 that the disclosure in this case was not “specifically prohibited by law.” The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was affirmed. The Chief Justice’s opinion was joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan. Justice Sotomayor issued a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Kennedy.
To discuss the case, we have Kevin Govern, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Ave Maria School of Law.