The Spectacle Blog

Troubling Precedent as Judge Rules Against Gerald Walpin

By on 6.19.10 | 6:15PM

When AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin was fired a year ago, it was the first shot in what eventually became the Obama administration's "War on Watchdogs." After Walpin sued to win back his job, the case was repeatedly delayed until a federal judge dismissed it Thursday:

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts threw out a lawsuit Walpin brought in an attempt to be restored to his position at the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs Americorps and other programs. Walpin has claimed that his firing was political retaliation for his opposition to wasteful spending by the agency and for his aggressive investigation of a friend of Obama, Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson. The White House stridently denied any such motivation.
Roberts said a federal law passed in 2008 with Obama's support, the Inspector General Reform Act, did not allow Walpin the right to sue over what he contends was an improper removal. The judge also said that the requirement in the statute that Obama give Congress his reasons for any such firing was too vague for the courts to assess whether Obama's claim that he'd lost confidence in Walpin was sufficient.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner says, "[I]f the decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts stands, in the future the White House will be able fire other inspectors general as it fired Walpin without fear of legal consequences."

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