and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory filed a lawsuit
Thursday, challenging what they call the U.S. government's invasive
background checks into their personal lives, including their sexual
At issue is a 2004 executive order signed by
President George W. Bush requiring federal agencies and facilities to
institute an identification badge.
The 28 plaintiffs allege the
Bush administration is requiring them to consent to broad written
waivers permitting investigators to obtain records from their past
employment files. They are all long-term employees of California
Institute of Technology (Caltech) , which manages JPL for NASA.
According to Dan Stormer, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, federal
investigators will also be allowed to question the employees' friends
and associates about their emotional and financial well-being, as well
as their sexual histories.
"They're being required to give up
every personal record they have," he said. "It's just a despicable
incursion into constitutionally protected rights."
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction against implementing the background checks.
Stormer said the JPL scientists and engineers, some of whom worked on
the recent space probe sent to Mars, are not employed by the federal
JPL employees have been informed that they must comply with the background checks by Sept. 28 or lose their jobs a month later.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are NASA, the U.S. Department of
Commerce and Caltech. The Commerce Department contracts with Caltech
for various services.
Stormer said that he is very confident
the injunction will be granted, adding the background checks were part
of the Bush administration's assault on the U.S. Constitution.