The legality of government collection of telephone metadata has been settled for a long time, so it isn’t really surprising that the Supreme Court turned down a direct review of FISA today.
The type of review requested (a “mandamus” review) is rarely granted.
The Supreme Court on Monday passed up an opportunity to weigh in on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s collection of a massive database containing information on virtually every telephone call made to, from or within the United States.
The justices’ action makes it unlikely the high court will provide a definitive answer on the question during its current term.
Acting without comment or indication of dissent on Monday, the justices turned down a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center seeking to have the Supreme Court perform a direct review of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order authorizing the call-tracking program under the PATRIOT Act—a controversial anti-terrorism statute passed a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The surveillance issue could reach the high court through a variety of other vehicles. The Justice Department pointed to three civil lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and conservative legal activist Larry Klayman.
The ACLU, the EFF, and lunatic Larry Klayman. Strange bedfellows indeed.