Fourth Amendment

Damage Settlement Repealed in Wiretapping Case

Lawyers of an Islamic charity who claimed that they were wiretapped cannot recover damages according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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A federal appeals court has overturned a court decision awarding $40,800 in damages and $2.5 million in legal fees to an Islamic charity's lawyers who claimed they were illegally surveilled under President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

A unanimous, three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the lawyers for the Al-Haramin Islamic Foundation could not recover damages, or the related legal fees, because Congress never explicitly waived sovereign immunity—a legal doctrine which limits lawsuits for money damages against the federal government to cases specifically authorized by law.