Federal judge halts enforcement of controversial STOCK Act provision

Richard Drew/AP file photo

A federal judge temporarily halted enforcement of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act this week, ruling in favor of groups that argued the law’s online financial disclosure requirement violates constitutional rights.

Judge Alexander Williams Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a temporary preliminary injunction on the enforcement of the STOCK Act on Thursday; the 28,000 federal employees affected by the requirement will not have to disclose details about their financial transactions online until November.

In August, Congress extended the deadline on the enforcement of the STOCK Act’s requirement that federal executives provide personal financial information for a public database. That extension came after the American Civil Liberties Union, along with several groups such as the Senior Executives Association, filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., against the government.

In his filing, Williams wrote that the federal employee groups “have shown that they and thousands of other senior U.S. military officers and civilian employees will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.”

The temporary preliminary injunction will maintain the status quo until Oct. 31, “to enable the parties to litigate this case in light of whatever changes Congress makes to the challenged statute in September,” Williams wrote.

The government has until the end of this month to respond to the ruling. In the meantime, Congress could amend the provision. In the filing, Williams wrote that “counsel for the United States agrees that amendment [to the Act] is likely.”

Lawmakers repeatedly have voiced similar concerns about the controversial provision of the STOCK Act on behalf of federal employees. A spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., previously told Government Executive that the senator “would like to find a way to prevent online disclosure of personal financial information that would risk national security, or endanger safety of the filers and their families.”

The Senior Executives Association has called the STOCK Act’s provisions a security threat that could hamper agencies from recruiting top talent. In August, SEA called the legislation an “inadequately considered law, unfortunately enacted with extreme haste in an election year.”

Before the STOCK Act, high-ranking government personnel had to file financial disclosure forms, but they were available to the public only upon written request.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.