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SCOTUS Agrees To Review Domestic Surveillance Challenge

SCOTUS Agrees To Review Domestic Surveillance Challenge

The Supreme Court will consider whether a collection of plaintiffs represented by the ACLU have the right to challenge the constitutionality of a controversial law that allows the National Security Agency to conduct dragnet-style surveillance of Americans’ international email and phone calls.

The ACLU filed the challenge in 2008 on behalf of a broad group of attorneys and human rights, labor, media and legal organizations whose work requires them to engage in sensitive communications with individuals overseas, including colleagues, clients, sources, foreign officials and victims of human rights abuses. The plaintiffs, include The Nation, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch among others.

The ACLU challenged the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, but the government argued the plaintiffs could not pursue the claims without first showing they had been the victims of actual surveillance under the program. An appeals court disagreed, finding the plaintiffs have a reasonable basis to fear that the government may be monitoring their conversations, even if it has no reason to suspect them of having engaged in anything illegal.

ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shaprio responded to the news of Supreme Court review, noting the importance of the future decision. “Given the importance of this law, the Supreme Courtís decision to grant review is not surprising. What is disappointing is the Obama administrationís effort to insulate the broadest surveillance program ever enacted by Congress from meaningful judicial review.”

Not much is known about how the FISA Amendments Act has been used other than the government has acknowledged several “compliance incidents” where privacy safeguards for Americans had been breached.

The act is scheduled to sunset in December. The ACLU and other civil rights groups are calling for changes to the law that would limit surveillance to suspected terrorists and criminals, require the government be more transparent about how the law is used and place stronger restrictions on the retention and dissemination of information collected. In the meantime though the Roberts Court will get the opportunity to weigh in and, given its mixed record on issues of executive authority, police power and individual privacy rights this is a case we’ll keep a close eye on.

Related Stories:

CISPA Passes The House. Why We Should Be Wary

Police Use Of Cellphone Tracking Threatens Privacy

The Patriot Act Ten Years Later

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Photo from Jon Gossier via flickr.

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14 comments

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1:40PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Not expecting much in the way of changes from this court.

6:42AM PDT on May 31, 2012

Thank you for the article...

6:16PM PDT on May 30, 2012

Teresa C.---------I'm with you. This supreme court isn't working for all the people, it's working for the party. The Republican Party. As the kids say............party down!!!!

2:34PM PDT on May 30, 2012

Human and Civil Rights are like a muscle - If you don't exercise them vigorously they weaken, atrophy, and die.

2:33PM PDT on May 30, 2012

We don't "Lose" Civil and Human Rights. We GIVE THEM AWAY by our silence and inaction....

10:03AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Since 9-11 we as Americans have been loosing our 1st amendment rights faster than at anytime in our history. The past 3 years are even more terrible under Mr. Obama. We need to write our congressment and US Supreme Court and tell them that we want to keep our laws as defined under the US Constitition. No more smoke and mirrors.

8:41AM PDT on May 30, 2012

These are the only rights SCOTUS will address! Where are taxpayers/voters on losing our Constitutional rights? The ACLU and a few other rights groups behind this need to be supported, I think. We are losing Constitutional rights left and right to the UN agenda, WHO, and other One World agendas, and no one seems to care. I do. What about you?

8:41AM PDT on May 30, 2012

These are the only rights SCOTUS will address! Where are taxpayers/voters on losing our Constitutional rights? The ACLU and a few other rights groups behind this need to be supported, I think. We are losing Constitutional rights left and right to the UN agenda, WHO, and other One World agendas, and no one seems to care. I do. What about you?

6:52AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy are right-wing extremists who spout their supposed love of freedom and their hatred of the oppressive jackboot of government authority on the necks of ordinary citizens, but they are capable of twisted, convoluted. perverted, illogical, irrational, absurd "legal scholarship" that justifies the fascism of the security state over freedom because they are the establishment benefitting from the oppressive jackboot of government authority on the necks of ordinary citizens .

5:07AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Does anyone else find it Ironic that a country that promotes citizen rights around the world..is working hard to remove them from this country?

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