In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court said that public employees do not have blanket rights to file lawsuits as part of whistleblower protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.Since SOX became law in 2002, about 750 people have filed complaints with the Department of Labor, saying that they were retaliated against for bringing to light problems within their department, whether directly to a superior or to someone outside.
The Bush administration had urged the court to place limits on when government whistleblowers can sue, arguing that those workers have other options, including the filing of civil service complaints. The case was argued twice this term, once before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired in January, and again after her successor, Samuel Alito, joined the bench. He cast the tie-breaking vote.
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