Supreme Court Thwarts Challenge to Warrantless Surveillance
IMHO this is a sad day. Clearly this administration has no more regard for civil protections and limits to surveillance than George Bush on a bad day. For all that has gone better with this administration, this rather large wart on his legacy will remain regardless of the outcome of medical reform or the economy.
A divided Supreme Court halted a legal challenge Tuesday 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.
The 5-4 decision (.pdf) by Justice Samuel Alito was a clear victory for the President Barack Obama administration, which like its predecessor, argued that government wiretapping laws cannot be challenged in court. What’s more, the outcome marks the first time the Supreme Court decided any case touching on the eavesdropping program that was secretly employed in the wake of 9/11 by the President George W. Bush administration, and eventually codified into law twice by Congress.
A high court majority concluded that, because the eavesdropping is done secretly, the American Civil Liberties Union, journalists and human-rights groups that sued to nullify the law have no legal standing to sue — because they have no evidence they are being targeted by the FISA Amendments Act. Some of the plaintiffs, which the court labeled “respondents,” are also journalists and among other things claimed the 2008 legislation has chilled their speech and violated their Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said standing should have been granted. He said that the spying, “Indeed it is a s likely to take place as are most future events that commonsense inference and ordinary knowledge of human nature tell us will happen.”