Elon Musk’s SpaceX has sued the U.S. government, claiming the government’s administrative filing accusing the rocket and satellite company of refusing to hire refugees and asylum seekers violates the U.S. Constitution.
SpaceX, in a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Texas, claims that U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) administrative judges who hear cases involving employment bias against immigrants are not properly named, and that failure to pursue the matter in court deprives the company of its constitutional right to a jury trial.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The DOJ, in a complaint filed last month, said that from 2018 to 2022, SpaceX systematically refused to hire people who were not U.S. citizens or green card holders. SpaceX falsely claimed that federal export control laws prohibited it from employing foreign citizens, the DOJ said.
In its Friday lawsuit, SpaceX said it employs hundreds of non-U.S. citizens, but that some of its projects have national security implications and that it faces hefty fines for employing workers foreigners.
But regardless of the merits of the DOJ’s assertions, administrative appeal is not permitted under the U.S. Constitution, SpaceX asserted.
DOJ administrative judges are appointed by the U.S. attorney general, but have powers that should be reserved only for officials appointed by the president, SpaceX said in the lawsuit.
The company cited a federal appeals court’s 2022 ruling that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s internal enforcement procedures were unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court announced in June that it would review the decision.
And because the case against SpaceX seeks monetary penalties under federal employment discrimination law, it should be heard in federal court, the company argued.
SpaceX said it would ask the court to block the administrative case from moving forward pending the outcome of its trial.
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