(WASHINGTON) – The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the government's right to ask federal contract employees about past drug use.
Twenty-eight employees of the California Institute of Technology, who work at a multi-billion dollar research and development facility owned by NASA, filed suit against the government arguing that its background checks violate their constitutional right to privacy.
In an 8-0 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court said that the background check was constitutional because of the government's interest as an "employer and proprietor" to manage its internal operations.
"The Government has good reason to ask employees about their recent illegal-drug use," Justice Alito wrote. “Like any employer, the Government is entitled to have its projects staffed by reliable, law-abiding persons who will efficiently and effectively discharge their duties."
It was only in 2007 that NASA changed its policy and required the contractors -- many of whom had worked for years in the facility -- to undergo the same background checks as federal employees.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio