Whether the ends justify the means is a question that arises in many areas of the law. For example, the national debate on the use of extreme methods to interrogate suspected terrorists turns on this question. Proponents of extreme methods argue that the prevention of terror attacks in the U.S. is such an important goal that conventional methods of interrogation are insufficient. Opponents of extreme methods argue that everyone is entitled to minimal human rights, whether or not suspected of being a terrorist, and that failure to provide minimal human rights sacrifices our most cherished values.

A similar debate about ends and means is brewing with respect to legal protections for anonymous whistleblowers. Prior to enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, legal protections for anonymous whistleblowers were almost unknown. Nevertheless, following the corporate implosions of Enron, WorldCom and others, and the resulting downturn in the stock markets, Congress determined that prevention of future stock market collapses was a sufficiently important goal to justify creating legal protections for anonymous whistleblowers.