Privacy Group Tries to Bring NSA Wiretap Challenge to Supreme Court


Another possible fight on standing at the Supreme Court

As the Obama Administration tries to unsuccessfully talking point* its way through this lively public debate the president says he wants to have over balancing security and privacy in the wake of Edward Snowden's leak, one privacy group is trying to take the matter directly to the Supreme Court. They pretty much have to, thanks to the secret rules of the National Security Agency's program.

Via the New York Times:

A privacy rights group plans to file an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on Monday asking it to stop the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans.

The group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says it is taking the extraordinary legal step of going directly to the Supreme Court because the sweeping collection of the phone records of American citizens has created "exceptional circumstances" that only the nation's highest court can address.

The group, based in Washington, also said it was taking its case to the Supreme Court because it could not challenge the legality of the N.S.A. program at the secret court that approved it, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, and because lower federal courts did not have the authority to review the secret court's orders.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog goes into more detail about the filing here.

*Yes, I just used "talking point" as a verb. Deal with it.

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  1. OMG! You verbed a buzzword.

  2. Sorry, no standing. Not ripe. Political question. Nonjusticiable. Go away, you bother us.

    1. Evolving. Don’t forget evolving.

  3. A privacy rights group plans to file an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on Monday asking it to stop the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans.

    Nazgul are going to punt.

  4. “*Yes, I just used “talking point” as a verb. Deal with it.”

    But, Scott, “bullshit” already exists.

    1. Bullshit, obfuscate, lie, weasel, make shit up.

      So many synonyms for lie through their fucking teeth, so little time.

    2. Even worse: he split the infinitive of “to talking point”.

  5. I mean, I don’t want to laugh at them in a mean way, but… lol. yeah, good luck.

    1. I wish them good luck too, but I gotta laugh right along with you. It’s the only thing that keeps me from going insane with rage these days.

      What really concerns me about this is the fact that if the Nazgul don’t punt, and actually hear the case, they’ll declare everything the NSA/FISA does as completely constitutional and that will be that. Good luck getting anything changed once SCOTUS declares that it’s all above board.

  6. You know I am getting a little sick and tired of our government skating out on this technicality.

    Someone needs to start up a movement to get a new Constitutional Amendment passed, it simply says…

    “Any American Citizen may challenge the constitutionality any law whether Federal, State, or Local at any time for any reason and the courts must hear the case and rule on it.”

    1. If nothing else it would totally clog the machinery, an unintended benefit.

    2. AND there needs to be accountability, such as forbidding the author and everyone who voted for or approved the law or regulation from ever collecting any government money for any reason whatsoever — pensions, pay, tax refunds, everything without exception. Nothing else will get their attention.

  7. After reading the post on Clapper last week I read the Clapper v. Amnesty International opinion, where the Court’s conservatives (with the four liberals dissenting) voted to deny standing to human rights activists, journalists and others regularly engaging in communications which would have fallen into the category that the government said they were intercepting and listening too who wanted to sue on 4th Amendment grounds. A disappointing case and result, but what struck me was how much I enjoyed Breyer’s dissent. It’s one of the few opinions where I could see a healthy distrust of government running through out. Essentially it argued, sure, we don’t have a specific example of these people’s communications being searched, but when the government has the capacity and the declared intent to do something we should act as if they are doing it and allow standing.

  8. I can’t believe they’d punt on standing here after the executive and Verizon have both said that all the company’s metadata goes to the NSA. That’s exactly the kind of injury Amnesty International couldn’t prove in Clapper.

    More likely they’ll just decline to hear the case with no written opinion (but an unspoken “fuck you”).

  9. Yes, this is absolutely Fuck You That’s Why waiting to happen.

    One good thing is that the rage and cynicism we articulate here is spreading.


    Too many people notice the Fuck You now. That doesn’t make it any harder to pull off, in the short term – that’s what makes it Fuck You That’s Why, precisely the fact that it doesn’t matter what any of us think.

    But the erosion of confidence in the state, the disintegration of the viewpoint that “America just doesn’t do certain things,”, the gradual inflammation of the popular rage, etc. all point to more positive developments long-term.

  10. *Yes, I just used “talking point” as a verb.

    You are dead to me, Mr. Scott “Love Shack” Shackford. You hear me? Dead!

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