Can You Lose Your Security Clearance for Signing a Pledge?

Here’s an interesting topic that came up this week.Some tech professionals have signed a pledge to say they will not work on any IT projects related to the creation of government databases race, religion, or national origin, among other things. The project has gotten signatures from tech company employees who work for the government, including Google and Amazon. Which is causing some tech journalists to wonder if the professionals signing that pledge could lose their jobs.

Answer - it’s unlikely. But, it’s an interesting movement in an already uber interesting political news cycle.

A member of our CJ Advisory Council is quoted in ComputerWorld’s ( article:

“The security clearance process is not supposed to infringe on fundamental First Amendment rights,” said Sean Bigley, a partner at Bigley Ranish in Los Angeles, a law firm that specializes in security clearance issues. But because the president, as commander-in-chief, has control over who gets a security clearance, it makes it possible for someone to use their signature on the pledge against them, he said.

Nonetheless, Bigley said there are “enough procedural protections in place that political retaliation in the form of a denied or revoked security clearance would be highly unlikely.” The clearance decisions are made by career security officials “who carefully guard their prerogatives against outside influence,” he said.

The bigger problem is if the employee’s action goes beyond a speech issue to refusing to work on a particular project because of the pledge, which could form the basis of security or loyalty concerns, said Bigley.

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Let us assume, just hypothetically, that signing such a pledge would indeed cause a person to lose their clearance.

First the investigator would have to know about it, right? So how do they find out? Maybe you told them. Well, which question would this fall under? Subversive acts? I dont think so… you’re not signing a pledge to overthrow the government.

Maybe they found out on their own? How, by checking the website? Well maybe they’d need to check other websites.

OK so let’s say you send a disclosure to the investigator “I signed this pledge.” What adjudication criteria would be at play here? I am not sure this is an issue.

Sean M. Bigley retired from the practice of law in 2023, after a decade representing clients in the security clearance process. Anyone purporting to be them online is fraudulent.