Whitman v. Dept. of Transportation

PETITIONER: Terry L. Whitman
RESPONDENT: Department of Transportation et al.
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 04-1131
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 547 US 512 (2006)
GRANTED: Jun 27, 2005
ARGUED: Dec 05, 2005
DECIDED: Jun 05, 2006

ADVOCATES:
Malcolm L. Stewart - argued the cause for Respondents
Pamela S. Karlan - argued the cause for Petitioner

Facts of the case

Terry Whitman works as an air traffic assistant for the Federal Aviation Administration (which is part of the Department of Transportation). Federal law requires that FAA employees who perform "safety-sensitive functions" submit to random drug tests. Whitman brought suit in federal district court, claiming that the FAA was testing him for substance abuse three times more often than other people holding similar positions. The disproportionate testing, he argued, violated his "First Amendment right to privacy" as well as his statutory rights, because the testing was not truly random.

The district court dismissed the suit, finding that the Civil Service Reform Act requires complaint's like Whitman's to be decided through the arbitration procedures set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between the FAA and the National Association of Government Employees. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Question

Does the Civil Service Reform Act prevent a federal employee from bringing suit against his employer in federal district court to challenge alleged constitutional and statutory violations?

Media for Whitman v. Dept. of Transportation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 05, 2005 in Whitman v. Dept. of Transportation

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 05, 2006 in Whitman v. Dept. of Transportation

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Also this morning, we decide two argued cases in Per Curiam opinions.

In 04-1131, Whitman versus Department of Transportation, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

Justice Alito took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

In 05-465, Mohawk Industries versus Williams, the writ of certiorari we previously granted limited to Question 1 presented by the petition is dismissed as improvidently granted; however, today, we now grant the petition for certiorari.

The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit for further consideration in light of our decision just announced in Anza versus Ideal Steel Supply Corporation.