Supreme Court hears privacy arguments in NASA v. Nelson

At the oral argument Tuesday, the justices tried to determine what the Constitution says about the government's authority to ask about personal, private issues, according to Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog.

They struggled with what the scope of a privacy right would look like.

For instance, Justice Sonia Sotomayor brought up whether the government can ask about a person's "genetic makeup," according to Denniston, to see if they are prone to a disease.

Justice Samuel Alito asked why the government should be limited from probing the background of every employee, including snack bar workers. For instance, what if the snack bar worker were wearing a sign that implied he might blow up a building, Alito said.

Denniston said Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both seemed to steer the discussion toward the possibility of a narrow ruling that will not overhaul legal privacy protections but will instead address whether NASA overstepped in this instance.