Lawsuits without proof hold no ground, said the Supreme
Court on Tuesday as it declined to review a case against the federal
government. A group of plaintiffs
represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the
government for its warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps program.
Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the president may order secret wiretaps with the approval of the FISA court. The ACLU claims the president bypassed this court to wiretap suspects after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A previous ruling by a lower court judge stated that the
surveillance program infringed on the Fourth Amendment. The judge also noted that the program
violated plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by causing a “chilling effect”
where speech is hindered out of fear of being penalized. The decision, last year, was overturned on
appeal. A three-judge panel concluded
that the plaintiffs had no proof of being wiretapped, therefore held no standing.
What makes this lawsuit difficult, if not impossible, for
plaintiffs is that they must show that the company or entity has harmed them in
one way or another. Because the NSA
wiretapping is in secret and protected by state privileges,
no person knows whether they have been wiretapped, reports The LA Times. Ergo, no citizen can demonstrate proof he or she was wiretapped.
The ACLU decided to go at this from a different angle,
claiming the chilling effect is grounds for suit. On behalf of activist groups, scholars, and
journalists, the civil rights group asserted that warrantless wiretapping has
disrupted communications between the plaintiffs and their contacts.
The Sixth Circuit court ruled 2-1 that the plaintiffs’ case
held no ground based on the lack of proof, and it did not show any direct
harm from the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
The ruling stands with the backing of the Supreme
Warrantless wiretapping lawsuits are becoming more and more frequent, recently involving telecom companies and the NSA. The ruling on Tuesday by the Supreme Court will not have affect the litigation against the telecom firms though.
quote: Those of you that are screaming for that ability to be taken away will also be the first screaming that we didn't do enough to prevent the next attack.
quote: Read up before making analogies. Powers if kept in check are more effective to get things done and keep illegal behavior and activities from happening compared to power without any check.
quote: I'm trying to get a handle on the cause of this 'outrage'.
quote: Because the NSA wiretapping is in secret and protected by state privileges, no person knows whether they have been wiretapped, reports The LA Times. Ergo, no citizen can demonstrate proof he or she was wiretapped.
quote: liberal hippie douche path