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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

Recent Court Case "Narrower" than Most Believe

Yesterday's Garcetti decision from the Supreme Court is not as big a deal as many people think, according to one California law professor.
"It does not prohibit states or local governments from enacting whistle-blowing statutes like California has done," McGeorge School of Law professor Clark Kelso said. "The opinion is going to have no substantial impact on the rights of state employees who have all sorts of protections under our whistle-blower statutes."
The article, which I spotted linked on How Appealing, states that California has its own whistleblower statute, and there is little stopping other legislatures from enacting strong protections also. Aside from that, Professor Kelso thinks that the decision itself is nothing to get bent out of shape about...
He said the "precise holding" of the decision's author, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, applies only to a government worker "speaking in the course of his or her employment." Public workers speaking out as private citizens can still spotlight wrongdoing that they believe is taking place within their agencies, Kelso said.

"If you want to do it, do it in a slightly different way than the routine memo, which will look to employers as an internal communication," Kelso said.
Some of the comments about the case that I've read have claimed that it's too hard for courts to say if someone is acting as a worker in the course of their employment or as a private citizen. I don't really buy that. Sure, it may be a little tough sometimes, but I think that an internal office memo is pretty easy to label as a "course of employment" thing.

I had a good time reading one of the left wing message boards that I frequent. Oh, man. They were just in hysterics over the line up in this decision. "Hurr... Stupid Bush and his Roberts-Alito stooges!!1" and such. Even though I agree with Professor Kelso and think this case isn't that big of a deal, it was still funny reading those comments.

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