Isn’t that a splendid headline? It’s the first thing that popped into my head after reading the headline to this AP article:
Court Rejects ACLU Challenge to Wiretaps
Here’s what they’re talking about:
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to civil rights and privacy advocates who oppose the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The justices, without comment, turned down an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union to let it pursue a lawsuit against the program that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The action underscored the difficulty of mounting a challenge to the eavesdropping, which remains classified and was confirmed by President Bush only after a newspaper article revealed its existence.
“It’s very disturbing that the president’s actions will go unremarked upon by the court,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s national security project. “In our view, it shouldn’t be left to executive branch officials alone to determine the limits.”
The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal.
The ACLU sued on behalf of itself, other lawyers, reporters and scholars, arguing that the program was illegal and that they had been forced to alter how they communicate with foreigners who were likely to have been targets of the wiretapping. A federal judge in Detroit largely agreed, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored and thus could not prove they had been harmed by the program.
The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.
This is a major win for the intelligence community and a huge setback for the ACLU and their fellow litigants. The impact of Tuesday’s ruling is that there’s another legal precedent that says warrantless surveillance isn’t illegal. That’s the predictable outcome if you believe that the Fourth Amendment only protects against unreasonable searches.
There’s a lesson to be applied to this year’s election. This lawsuit’s path through the judiciary shows the difference between activist judges and strict constructionist jurists. This all got started when Anna Diggs-Taylor ruled that the NSA’s intercept program violated people’s First Amendment rights of all things. Once it got to the 6th Circuit, though, Diggs-Taylor’s ruling was toppled, setting up a potential hearing in the Supreme Court.
Anna Diggs-Taylor is a Carter-appointed judge with strong connections to the ACLU. For that reason alone, she should’ve recused herself from this case. Failing to do that, she should’ve been removed from this case.
Now that her ruling has been overturned and all their appeals options used, we can get back to surveilling terrorists and hopefully preventing future terrorist attacks.
Cross-posted at California Conservative