Supreme Court to rule on standing to challenge wiretapping law

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] Monday in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether plaintiffs have standing to challenge a federal eavesdropping law. The plaintiffs, including attorneys, journalists and rights organizations, facially challenged [JURIST report] Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [50 USC § 1881(a) text], which was added by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) [HR 6304 materials]. The law creates procedures to allow electronic government surveillance of individuals living outside of the US for foreign intelligence purposes. The plaintiffs allege that the law violates the Fourth Amendment, First Amendment and Article III of the Constitution. A 2009 ruling [JURIST report] from the US District Court in Manhattan found that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they did not suffer an injury in fact and dismissed the suit. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated the lawsuit [JURIST report] last year. The issue before the court is:

Whether respondents lack Article III standing to seek prospective relief because they proffered no evidence that the United States would imminently acquire their international communications using Section 1881a authorized surveillance and did not show that an injunction prohibiting Section 1881a-authorized surveillance would likely redress their purported injuries.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], one of the respondents in the case, expressed hope [press release] that the Supreme Court would affirm the Second Circuit: "The appeals court properly recognized that our clients have a reasonable basis to fear that the government may be monitoring their conversations, even though it has no reason to suspect them of having engaged in any unlawful activities. The constitutionality of the government's surveillance powers can and should be tested in court. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree."

In September the ACLU released a report [text, PDF] claiming that the US is diminishing its "core values" with regard to various counterterrorism measures [JURIST report] put in place during the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. To support this contention, the report cited to US policies regarding indefinite military detention for terrorism suspects, the use of torture on terrorism suspects and enemy combatants, racial and religious profiling, and domestic surveillance and wiretapping. The report posited that these policies run deeper than what is known by the American people, civil liberties continue to be violated in secret and that future violations are imminent. The ACLU called upon US citizens to demand national security measures that do not encroach upon civil liberties and to urge government leaders to put an end to policies and programs that do not align themselves with these values

 

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