Gavel Grab

Surveillance Lawsuit Tossed by Supreme Court

A legal challenge to expanded electronic surveillance of targets operating outside the United States was thrown out when the Supreme Court said the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to sue.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote in a 5-4 opinion that those people challenging the constitutionality of a 2008 law were unable to show it harmed them, according to a New York Times article. The law’s challengers included journalists and lawyers who represented detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

In effect, the court ruled that “[n]o one can sue the government over secret surveillance because, since it’s secret, no one can prove his or her calls were intercepted,” a Los Angeles Times article said.

“Absent a radical sea change from the courts, or more likely intervention from the Congress, the coffin is slamming shut on the ability of private citizens and civil liberties groups to challenge government counterterrorism policies, with the possible exception of Guantánamo,”  Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at American University, told the New York Times.

To learn about protecting civil liberties in troubled times, see Justice at Stake’s 2006 “Courting Danger” report.


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