On June 1, 2006, the American Civil Liberties of Union of New Jersey filed a friend-of-the court brief to protect the privacy rights of government employees whose personal financial information is being made publicly available under a new law. The ACLU-NJ submitted the brief in support of 13 employees of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission who are seeking to prohibit such public disclosures until the state establishes reasonable limits on the scope and breadth of such information.
Employees of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission filed suit after the Legislature passed a statute, in accordance with Governor Corzine's Executive Order #1, which required vast amounts of sensitive private financial information of all commission employees to be disclosed to the public via the Internet, with the exception of secretarial or clerical employees.
The current executive order and recent statute do not pass constitutional muster and are overbroad, the ACLU-NJ argued in its brief. The ACLU-NJ noted that this financial information -- which may include whether employees owe money to relatives, how much or how little is in their bank account, where their children and spouse work, credit card debts, how much life insurance they have, any businesses a spouse has an ownership interest in, what stocks or bonds an employee owns and how much they owe on their mortgages -- is information that most people would be embarrassed by or seek or avoid disclosure of when dealing with family members and friends, much less the entire public.
While the ACLU-NJ generally supports public access to government-held information, the current disclosure of sensitive personal information covers employees with no decision-making responsibility and discloses information that is unrelated to employees' job functions and in which the State Ethics Committee has found no conflicts or impropriety.
The case is before Judge Garrett Brown of the U.S District Court in Trenton.