Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Warrantless Wiretapping Appeal

February 19, 2008 11:30 a.m.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Tuesday to the Bush administration’s domestic spying program.

The justices’ decision, issued without comment, is the latest setback to legal efforts to force disclosure of details of the warrantless wiretapping that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the wiretapping program. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored.

There are still a number of suits ongoing. But the hurdle in this case and most others challenging the program is a high one — the court has refused to hear the lawsuit because the journalists, scholars, attorneys and national advocacy groups that filed the lawsuit can’t prove that they were wiretapped under the program. Of course, that information is secret, and the government refuses to say.

Not all judges have found that to be a problem. For instance, district Judge Anna Diggs Taylor issued an injunction shutting down the program in August, 2006 — and proclaimed in her opinion that “It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.” An appeals court dismissed the suit last July, citing the lack of standing.

This suit was against the National Security Agency itself, not against the telecoms. Those suits are ongoing — for now. They would be automatically dismissed if the administration got its way and the new surveillance law contained immunity for the companies’ participation in the program.

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