I hope the Supreme Court agrees to let this lawsuit proceed….as we know for a fact the warrantless wiretapping violates the 4th amendment, no matter what the excuse!
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether to halt a legal challenge to a once-secret warrantless surveillance program targeting Americans’ communications that Congress eventually legalized in 2008.
The announcement is a win for the Obama administration, which like its predecessor, argues that government wiretapping programs and laws can’t be challenged in court.
At issue is the FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) the subject of lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, that authorizes the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
That bill was signed into law in July 2008, and the ACLU filed suit immediately. Then-senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the measure, though he said the bill was flawed and that he would push to amend it if elected. Instead, Obama, as president, simply continued the Bush administration’s legal tactics aimed at crushing any judicial scrutiny of the wiretapping program.
After a surprise appellate court decision last year that reinstated the ACLU’s challenge, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. The government said the ACLU and a host of other groups don’t have the legal standing to bring the case because they have no evidence they or their overseas clients are being targeted.
Without comment, the justices agreed to review the lower court’s decision at a yet-to-be determined date. It marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to review any case touching on the eavesdropping program that was secretly employed in the wake of 9/11 by the Bush administration, and eventually largely codified into law four years ago.
A lower court ruled the ACLU, Amnesty International, Global Fund for Women, Global Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, The Nation magazine, PEN American Center, Service Employees International Union and other plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case, because they could not demonstrate that they were subject to the eavesdropping.
The groups appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that they often work with overseas dissidents who might be targets of the National Security Agency program. Instead of speaking with those people on the phone or through e-mails, the groups asserted that they have had to make expensive overseas trips in a bid to maintain attorney-client confidentiality.
The plaintiffs, some of them journalists, also claim the 2008 legislation chills their speech, and violates their Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
Without ruling on the merits of the case, the appeals court agreed with the plaintiffs last year that they have ample reason to fear the surveillance program, and thus have legal standing to pursue their claim.
The Obama administration disagreed.