WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court heard testimony Tuesday in the case of a Federal Air Marshal Robert MacLean, who was fired after telling the media about controversial Transportation Security Administration practices and denied legal whistle-blower protection.
MacLean told MSNBC in 2003 the TSA pulled marshals from long-distance flights upon learning of an imminent terrorist attack. His identity was initially concealed, but in 2006 he was outed and subsequently fired.
Federal whistle-blower regulations protect employees who disclose company secrets that present "a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety," but the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled MacLean was exempt because it was against the law to disclose the information he provided.
A federal appeals court disagreed with the board's ruling, prompting the government to appeal to the seam
"Time and again, agencies have found ways to suppress inconvenient information," wrote a bipartisan coalition supporting MacLean's protection.
"The TSA itself has misused its [Sensitive Security Information] designation to withhold embarrassing information."
Although the court expected to rule on MacLean's whistle-blower status, or lack thereof, before spring, a ruling is not required until June.