Friday, February 22, 2008

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Wiretapping Program

The Supreme Court refused to hear the ACLU's challenge to the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program (WP story). ACLU lawyers represented lawyers, journalists and others in challenging the legality of the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that none of the plaintiffs had standing because they couldn't prove they had been monitored. The Sixth Circuit's opinion in ACLU v. NSA is available here. The decision creates an ironic legal absurdity. By violating federal law and refusing to seek warrants the Bush Administration keeps the targets of its surveillance secret. And by keeping the targets secret they effectively prevent anyone from having standing to challenge the program in court. In other areas of law courts have ruled that when a defendant hides its illegal behavior it cannot avail itself to equitable doctrines preventing suit - like the statute of limitations for example.

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