March 18, 2018: A Report Details Non-Disclosure Agreements Were Required at the White House

The Washington Post reports that senior White House staffers in President Trump’s administration were asked to sign long-term nondisclosure agreements which would prevent them from revealing confidential information. These agreements extended beyond the normal confidentiality obligations around classified information or attorney-client privilege and included fines if they were broken. What exactly is the law that would govern NDAs? Heidi Kitrosser of the University of Minnesota told Reuters that “These NDAs strike me as clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment” because the First Amendment protects free speech from government restriction, and White House personnel are employed by the government not by President Trump. This is not absolute in all cases. In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled public employees can be fired or otherwise disciplined for speech connected to their jobs. Several scholars suggested that President Trump does not need NDAs at all – he can just fire employees who have divulged confidential information.

Washington Post> Reuters>