HSPD-12 plaintiffs get week extension on paperwork

An emergency appeal filed by 28 workers on NASA projects has given them a week's reprieve from submitting to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 background checks.

Three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended the deadline for submitting initial paperwork for the checks from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12 while they consider all the information attached to the appeal.

The judges decided that they hadn’t had time to “consider fully the voluminous material” filed with the motion, and that the contractors who appealed raised “serious legal and constitutional questions.”

“What is quite clear is that the balance of hardships tips strongly in their favor,” the judges said in an order released late Oct. 5.

On Oct. 3, Judge Otis Wright of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied a request by the workers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory for an injunction to avoid filling out forms agreeing to have their backgrounds checked by their employers at the California Institute of Technology. The workers said that would violate their privacy rights.

Although Wright initially seemed to support a partial injunction, he later decided that the plaintiffs would not “suffer irreparable harm by signing an authorization form” for the background checks. The NASA employees responded by filing an emergency appeal to avoid filling out the form.

The appeals court will decide this week whether the injunction will remain in force during the entire appeals process.

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