Quoted: on Supreme Court’s dismissal of FISA spying lawsuit

“This ruling insulates the statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, on the U.S. Supreme Court decision (PDF) Tuesday to block a lawsuit over FISA, the law that lets the government monitor electronic communications abroad — and spy on Americans on the other end of those communications, too.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Obama administration backs and which the Senate voted to extend for five years at the end of last year, was amended in 2008 to legalize a warrantless-wiretapping program started by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 attacks. Wired notes that this is the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on anything “touching” that Bush-era program. Journalists, lawyers, Amnesty International, ACLU and others sued last year, saying their constitutional rights were at risk because their phone calls and emails could be caught up in the eavesdropping. In a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs had no right to sue because they could not prove they were harmed — by the ultra-secret spying program whose details the government refuses to talk about. “Simply put, respondents can only speculate as to how the attorney general and the director of national intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent: “We need only assume that the government is doing its job (to find out about, and combat, terrorism) in order to conclude that there is a high probability that the government will intercept at least some electronic communication to which at least some of the plaintiffs are parties.” Many reports about Tuesday’s decision point out that it most likely means the Supreme Court will never rule on FISA’s constitutionality.


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  • RedRat

    I hate to point this out, but FISA was backed by Diane Feinstein from CA and a bunch of other spineless Democrats who “went along to get along”–to their utter shame. That law ought to be repealed but I see no movement in Congress to do that.

  • curmudgeon2000

    “All your messages are belong to us!” — NSA, DHS, et. al.