Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

False Claims Act’s Seal Provisions Held Unconstitutional

The Seal provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA) do not violate the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided March 28, 2011.

The FCA allows private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the United States against parties who defraud the government through the filing of false claims. Amendments to the FCA in 1986 require that all FCA suits be initially sealed for a period of 60 days in order to allow the United States the opportunity to investigate and decide whether to intervene into the suit. This seal period can be extended another 60 days upon the showing of good cause.

The ACLU filed suit arguing that the FCA’s seal provisions violate the First Amendment. In a 2-1 opinion, the Fourth Circuit disagreed, holding the provisions constitutional.

According to the court, the seal provisions serve the governments “compelling interest in protecting the integrity of ongoing fraud investigations.” Further, the court held, the provisions are narrowly tailored to serve this compelling interest. See: ACLU v. Holder, No. 09-2086 (4th Cir. 2011).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

ACLU v. Holder