Elon Musk’s SpaceX has sued the U.S. government, saying the government’s administrative lawsuit accusing the rocket and satellite company of refusing to hire refugees and asylum seekers violates the Constitution.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Texas federal court, SpaceX says the Justice Department’s administrative law judges who hear cases involving employment bias against immigrants were improperly appointed and that keeping the case out of court deprived the company of its constitutional right to a penalty avoids trial.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The DOJ in one Complaint filed last month said that from 2018 to 2022, SpaceX routinely 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 nationals, the DOJ said.
In its lawsuit Friday, SpaceX said it has employed hundreds of non-U.S. citizens but that some of its projects have national security implications and it could face large fines for employing foreign workers.
But regardless of the merits of the DOJ’s claims, the administrative case was inadmissible under the Constitution, SpaceX claimed.
DOJ administrative law judges are appointed by the U.S. attorney general but have powers that should only be reserved for presidential appointees, SpaceX said in the lawsuit.
The company pointed to a 2022 federal appeals court ruling that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s internal enforcement procedures were unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court said in June it would review that decision.
And because the case against SpaceX calls for 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 continuation of the administrative process pending the outcome of its lawsuit.