“It’s such an important credential that it would allow them to get within, for example, six to 10 feet of the space shuttle as it’s being repaired and readied for launch.”
That statement, made by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal during Supreme Court oral arguments in a case about background checks for government contractors, might seem innocuous. But some contractors for NASA are not happy and demanding a retraction, according to the Washington Post.
Robert M. Nelson, the lead plaintiff in the case, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolton, saying the statement was “an insult to all of our co-workers at Kennedy Space Center who labor continuously to protect the safety of all NASA launch vehicles.”
“Their position is just plain false,” Nelson told the Post. “You cannot walk up to the space shuttle with the badge I have from JPL [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory].”
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said the Solicitor General’s office has no plans to seek a correction in the record.
“The solicitor general’s office worked closely with NASA officials in preparing for this case, including the use of the space shuttle example in the argument, and in no way misled the court,” Tracy Schmaler said.