Lawsuit Against NYPD for Muslim Surveillance Restored

Decision that stripped targets of standing to sue reversed


"We're not saying your a terrorist. We're just watching everything you do to make sure."
Credit: Sean MacEntee / photo on flickr

An appeals court panel has restored a lawsuit by Muslims against the New York Police Department for its intrusive but ultimately ineffectual surveillance of Muslim groups, not just in New York City, but outside of its own jurisdiction in New Jersey.

For those who don't recall, the Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for exposing that, following the Sept. 11 attacks, the NYPD started putting together informants and snooping among Muslim organizations, looking for signs of terrorist activity without any sort of direct suspicion of conspiracy. When the news came out, a collection of imams and students in New Jersey sued for the violation of their privacy and religious freedoms.

A judge in New York Jersey threw out their case, accepting the police's argument that it was an "anti-terrorism" investigation not an "anti-Muslim" investigation (despite the lack of suspects). The judge took it a bizarre step further by stating that any damages or discrimination that any Muslims might face as a result was due to the Associated Press reporting on the existence of the surveillance. The judge argued that the exposing of the surveillance was the source of any damage, not the surveillance itself.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was not having it. The court restored the plaintiffs' standing to sue, saying that blaming the exposure on the Associated Press was like saying ""What you don't know can't hurt you. And, if you do know, don't shoot us. Shoot the messenger."

After becoming mayor, Bill de Blasio ordered the end of the program in 2014. Read more about the case here.

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  1. Seems odd to send the case back to the same judge who made the ruling that needed to be overturned in the first place.

    1. Hopefully the admirable decision which the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached has multiple successive positive ramifications.

    2. Not at all. Appeals courts regularly remand cases back to the court where they originated.

  2. Sweet bearded Jesus, you can’t even do an alt-text without a usage fail?

    1. You’re comment about the Alt-Text shows that your not much of a solecist, OMWC.

    2. And I’m not even a millennial [WHOMP, WHOMP]!

    3. The alt-text is directed at the NYPD?

  3. The judge is in New Jersey, not New York.

  4. Bill de Blasio ordered the end of the program in 2014

    Any bets on whether it was actually ended?

    And the idea that the targets of an illegal surveillance operation don’t have standing is just . . . repellent.

    1. Any bets on whether it was actually ended?

      Of course not. Just better hidden, I’m sure.

      1. They probably switched it to focus on the real danger: Tea Party types.

    2. C’mon RC, those innocent muslims weren’t the targets, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know how that works.

    3. Barack Obama ended the War on Drugs back in ’09, and the war in Iraq in ‘011.

    4. And the idea that the targets of an illegal surveillance operation don’t have standing is just . . . repellent.

      It’s bad enough when the judge says “you can’t prove it so therefore you don’t have standing”. It’s just patently absurd when the judge says “you don’t have standing precisely because you can prove it”, which is basically what happened in this case.

  5. Standing is one of the most bullshitty parts of our legal system. Taxpayers have inherent standing on anything which government does, since they’re paying for it and all.

  6. This sounds like it would be a good question for the candidates tonight.

    In fairness, it would also be a good question in the next GOP debate.

    My guess is that the answers from every candidate would make me drink even harder than normal. Worse yet, 99% of my fellow citizens would completely agree with the candidates that this is a great idea and why even ask such a stupid question.

    1. With the possible exceptions of Rand Paul and Jim Webb, I agree.

      Are you going to watch the Democratic question and answer session tonight?

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