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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Supreme Court Protects Public Whistleblowers Providing Testimony

June 20, 2014
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(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the First Amendment protects public employee whistleblowers from retaliation when they make truthful statements while giving compelled testimony. This decision in the case of Lane v. Franks has positive ramifications for future whistleblowers and the U.S. legal system, which cannot function unless witnesses have the right to answer questions about corrupt activities without fear of retaliation.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) previously filed an amicus curiae brief with the Court urging this outcome. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented on the decision:

All whistleblowers should be grateful that the Supreme Court recognized their indispensible role making a difference. If not for Mr. Lane, Alabama taxpayers may still be paying a so-called employee not to work. The Court restored rights to state government workers that Congress already reinforced for federal employees in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. The decision should be applied to all contexts where public employees bear witness by testifying under oath.

Lane v. Franks centered on the firing of Charles Lane, a community college employee who exposed an Alabama state legislator who was collecting a paycheck from the college while performing no work. Lane revealed his information when subpoenaed by federal investigators.

GAP applauds this decision, and thanks the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic for its assistance in producing the amicus curiae.


Contact: Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 124, cell 240.888.4080

Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, cell 202.236.3733

Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.


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