NSA Mass Phone Surveillance Possibly Constitutional After All
August 28, 2015 9:17 PM Subscribe
On December 13, 2013, the US district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of American citizens' telephone records was "likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment (previously on MeFi). Today, DC's federal court of appeals overturned that ruling. The rationale is that the plaintiffs did not prove "that they were affected by the metadata-gathering program," so they did not have standing to challenge it in court.
Leon [the judge who issued the original decision] reacted quickly to the appeals court ruling. In an order Friday afternoon, he set a hearing for Wednesday on the next steps in the surveillance lawsuit.
Until Congress acted earlier this year [when it passed a law ending the so-called bulk collection of telephone metadata], many lawyers expected the legality of the surveillance program to eventually be resolved by the Supreme Court. However, there now appears to be some chance that lower courts use the new law to punt on the issue of whether earlier iterations of the surveillance efforts were legal and that the justices also manage to avoid dealing with that issue head-on.
In 2013, the Supreme Court cited standing concerns as it tossed out a lawsuit over NSA surveillance. However, that decision came months before NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent of the spy agency's domestic surveillance efforts.
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