Public, government rely on whistleblowers
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to government employees' whistleblower protection.
WHISTLEBLOWERS survived a challenge in March of its protection of government employees claiming sex discrimination in schools, but it faces another broader test in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Los Angeles County is contesting protection of a prosecutor who was demoted after accusing a deputy sheriff of falsifying evidence in a drug case. It exemplifies the way whistleblower protection was intended to operate.
The challenge arises as Congress is considering a bill that would strengthen whistleblower protection by allowing a federal employee to take a claim of waste, fraud and abuse to federal court if the agency doesn't act on it within six months. The bill was introduced by Senator Akaka and has been approved by House and Senate committees.
Richard Ceballos, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney, accused a deputy sheriff of lying about evidence to obtain a search warrant in a drug case. His supervisors pressed ahead with the case and a judge upheld the evidence. The deputy D.A. then was passed over for a promotion, demoted and transferred to another office.
Rejection of Ceballos' claim would infringe on the First Amendment rights of 21 million public employees, including state and county employees protected by Hawaii's law barring the firing, threatening of other discrimination after blowing the whistle on suspected violations of the law.
Hawaii's whistleblower has been valuable in exposing government corruption. An honest city liquor inspector turned whistleblower several years ago, wearing a wire for the FBI to gather bribery evidence that led to the conviction of a liquor inspection supervisor and seven inspectors.
Reporting official misconduct to superiors or the public is necessary to maintain the integrity of free speech and the proper functioning of government at all levels. Public officials have nothing to worry as long as they comply with the law.
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Bush puts the heat on Miers’ nomination
The president says Miers' faith is appropriately part of evaluating her nomination.
IN theory, religious beliefs should have no bearing in determining a nominee's fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. In reality, they have everything to do with President Bush's appointment of Harriet Miers.
In invoking Miers' evangelical faith as an appropriate credential, the president and his aides -- attempting to placate his skeptical conservative Christian supporters -- have done her no favors. Only weeks after declaring that Chief Justice John Roberts' Roman Catholic faith was off limits in considering his nomination, the administration's statements about Miers reeks of hypocrisy.
The ham-handed maneuver will place Miers in a difficult position as she makes her case for confirmation before the Senate, subjecting her to valid questions about whether her religious convictions will influence her judicial decisions.
The issue emerged when the White House, two days before her nomination, privately assured key conservative leaders that Miers' religion aligned her with their anti-abortion agenda. Having never been a judge, she had no record to exhibit her views, thus the need to signal to Bush's wary backers.
As expected, tactic provoked criticism from liberals, but it also disturbed conservatives who objected to the administration's employing of religion in the matter. As Joseph Cella of the conservative Catholic group Fidelis said, "Faith is too precious to be used as a trumpet or as a sword by those who either support or oppose a nominee."
The dust-up over religion is overshadowing another barrier for Miers -- that through most of her recent career, she has worked directly for Bush. Her personal and professional devotion to her client could prevent her from participating in cases that involve the administration and the president. Conflicts of interest would invalidate her vote on the court.