Never let a good crisis — or a really Kafka-eque court decision — go to waste. At least, that seems to be the attitude of the White House which, one week after the Supreme Court ruled that parties unable to prove they were subject to super-secret government eavesdropping have no standing to challenge such eavesdropping, has moved to toss an EFF lawsuit against NSA electronic surveillance on similar grounds. If it prevails, the government will have successfuly created and applied a legal regime under which Americans must prove that they are the targets of surveillance before they can mount a court fight, even as the government is free to keep its list of targets secret.
Citing week-old Supreme Court precedent, the President Barack Obama administration told a federal judge Wednesday that it should quash a federal lawsuit accusing the government of secretly siphoning Americans’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.
The San Francisco federal court legal filing was in response to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s written question to the government asking what to make of the high court’s Feb. 26 decision halting a legal challenge to a once-secret warrantless surveillance project that gobbles up Americans’ electronic communications — a program that Congress eventually legalized in 2008 and again in 2012.
In that case, known as Clapper, the justices ruled 5-4 that the American Civil Liberties Union, journalists and human-rights groups that sued to nullify the FISA Amendments Act had no legal standing to sue. The justices ruled the plaintiffs submitted no evidence they were being targeted by that law.
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