Logourl black
From our private database of 14,000+ case briefs...

National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson

United States Supreme Court
131 S. Ct. 746 (2011)


Facts

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (defendant) operated the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a key NASA facility with multibillion-dollar funding from taxes. JPL only employed contract employees, who were considered to be the functional equivalent of federal civil servants. In 2004, the federal government began requiring contract employees to undergo background checks. Previously, only federal civil servants had undergone background checks. The standard background-check process required contract employees to fill out a form questionnaire that asked whether the employees had used illegal drugs within the last year and, if so, whether the employees had sought treatment or counseling. All employee responses were subject to the Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibited the government from disclosing an individual’s records without the individual’s written consent. Prior to responding to the questionnaire, 28 of JPL’s contract employees (plaintiffs) brought suit, challenging the inquiry about treatment or counseling for recent illegal drug use. The plaintiffs argued that the inquiry violated their constitutional right to informational privacy and moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 175,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.