The new Bush appointees to the Supreme Court reversed the stand previously upheld by the majority including Justice O'Connor when it comes to government employees reporting fraud, waste, abuse or other violations and removes protections offered the rest of the nation via the First Ammendment.
The 5-4 opinion issued Monday is clear notice to those who might have reported problems - if you do, you have no rights to protection by law. This decision protects crooked officials and their behavior and endangers the public good and the public trust.
In dissenting statements, Justice Stevens wrote:
"The proper answer to the question `whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from discipline based on speech made pursuant to the employee's official duties,' is `Sometimes,' not `Never.' Of course a supervisor may take corrective action when such speech is `inflammatory or misguided.' But what if it is just unwelcome speech because it reveals facts that the supervisor would rather not have anyone else discover?"
Also, Justice Souter wrote:
"This significant, albeit qualified, protection of public employees who irritate the government is understood to flow from the First Amendment, in part, because a government paycheck does nothing to eliminate the value to an individual of speaking on public matters, and there is no good reason for categorically discounting a speaker's interest in commenting on a matter of public concern just because the government employs him. Still, the First Amendment safeguard rests on something more, being the value to the public of receiving the opinions and information that a public employee may disclose."
From Justice Breyer's dissent:
"The speech of vast numbers of public employees deals with wrongdoing, health, safety, and honesty; for example, police officers, firefighters, environmental protection agents, building inspectors, hospital workers, bank regulators, and so on. Indeed, this categorization could encompass speech by an employee performing almost any public function, except perhaps setting electricity rates."