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The Courts Government Privacy Your Rights Online

U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Rule On Constitutionality of Bulk Surveillance 141

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the try-again-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's bulk acquisition and storage of phone record metadata. The petition (PDF) for a Supreme Court ruling was submitted as a result of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon staying his ruling (PDF), pending an appeal, in a suit in which he concluded that collection of phone metadata without probable cause violated the Fourth Amendment. The plaintiffs had bypassed the federal appeals court and applied directly to the high court, given Judge Leon's admission that the case had significant national security interests at stake. The Supreme Court's decision not to rule on the case means that an appeal will need to be submitted to the federal appeals court as per protocol, but there is speculation that the mass surveillance issue will likely be addressed in the legislative and executive branches of government before the judicial branch weighs in. The provision allowing the bulk collection, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, expires June 1, 2015.'"
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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Rule On Constitutionality of Bulk Surveillance

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  • Damages (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:58PM (#46689059) Journal

    Here's another article I read today
    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/03/27/obamas-nsa-reform-package-may-hamstring-privacy-lawsuits [usnews.com]

    Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, unlike other challengers, seeks damages from Verizon and U.S. officials â" which may keep his two cases alive, experts say. Cases brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., do not seek damages.

    The request for past damages means that his lawsuit can't be mooted by legislative changes.
    All the other lawsuits are only asking for injuctions, and Congress can make them go away.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:47PM (#46689479) Journal

    That is one of the few mistakes our founders made. Allowing the court to ignore cases.

    Obviously you didn't read the article, nor understand the summary.

    The court did not ignore the case. There is a procedure. It starts at the circuit court. Then it goes through the appeals court, usually first with panel of 3, then the full appeals court. The SCOTUS is the final level of appeals.

    The process works as a vetting and refining system. The SCOTUS only gets involved in situations where different appeals courts have used differing standards or when there are certain controversial or seemingly contradictory situations. The district judge wanted to get around the procedures. It is very rarely successful except in cases where urgency is required and the implications are severe, such as the 'hanging chads' controversy. The court disagreed, wanting the case to go through the normal process.

    As with every issue that is a political hot topic, the SCOTUS will tend to wait to give congress a chance to address this before ruling. Often when Congress amends the law while a case is in progress, the appeal will simply remand it back to the district court with an order to follow the revised law rather than the old law.

    As of now, in the DC court, his initial ruling (that the bulk collection is unconstitutional) still stands, even though he put in a stay (delay before carrying out the order) in order to allow for appeals. If he felt so strongly he could have not accepted the stay, which would mean the government would need to implement the order immediately and the feds would have needed to petition for an emergency stay from a higher court.

    Right now the ruling is that the collection is unlawful. With the appeal denied so far, that decision stands. That is what we want, so don't complain about it.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Monday April 07, 2014 @07:09PM (#46689623) Journal

    That is what the judge wrote in his order. The court order makes for some intense reading compared to most rulings.

    The last paragraph in his order is about as strict as he could word it: I hereby give the Government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld, this order will go into effect forthwith. Accordingly, I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the Government will take whatever steps necessary to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld. Suffice it to say, requesting further time to comply with this order months from now will not be well received and could result in collateral sanctions. /Signed/ RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

    If he removed the stay he would need to allow the government time to implement the changes. This way the clock is already ticking.

  • by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Monday April 07, 2014 @07:56PM (#46689945)

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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