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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear EPIC Challenge To NSA Surveillance 227

Trailrunner7 writes "The challenge to the NSA's domestic surveillance program filed with the Supreme Court by the Electronic Privacy Information Center ended Monday, with the court refusing to consider the challenge at all. EPIC had filed the challenge directly with the Supreme Court rather than going through the lower courts. EPIC, a non-profit organization involved in privacy policy matters, had asked the court to vacate an order from a judge in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court that had enabled the NSA's collection of hundreds of millions of Verizon call records under the so-called metadata collection program. The challenge hinged on the idea that the FISC had gone outside of its authority in granting the order."
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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear EPIC Challenge To NSA Surveillance

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  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:43PM (#45456909)

    Sounds like we're going to need a reliable supplier of pitchforks soon.

  • No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:44PM (#45456925)

    EPIC tried to jump the line - they didn't follow the proper appeals process. That is highly frowned upon by the legal system and rarely succeeds. No surprise in this outcome. And nobody should read anything into it either way. One of the existing or future challenges may succeed as it works its way through the court system.

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:48PM (#45456983)

    No, what's needed is a source of sound legal advice and strategy. EPIC's strategy was fatally flawed from the beginning. Their failure should have been easily foreseen by just about anyone with a more than passing familiarity with the US legal system. It was a self-frag.

  • by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:51PM (#45457023)

    God forbid SCOTUS make a decision that in any way matters, challenges the status quo in any way, or requires them to work late. Unless they're doing something to benefit the powerful corporations [], best to just ignore the issue altogether and hope the lower courts aren't so lazy.

  • by CanEHdian ( 1098955 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:55PM (#45457061)
    That's indeed how it works, like a Bruce Lee movie: you start with the lowest ranked minion, then work your way up. Except you're not working, a very expensive team of lawyers is. Ka-ching, Ka-ching and Ka-ching. You don't get to jump to the End Boss without racking up a huge, huge legal bill.
  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:59PM (#45457111) Journal

    From their petition:

    The FISC and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ("Court of Review") only
    have jurisdiction to hear petitions by the Government
    or recipient of the FISC Order, and neither party to
    the order represents EPIC's interests. Other federal
    courts have no jurisdiction over the FISC, and thus
    cannot grant the relief that EPIC seeks.

    The only people that can appeal the order are the Feds and the people that the feds are ordering around.
    EPIC, despite having their metadata vacuumed up, have no standing under the law to appeal to the FISA court.

    It's easy for you and others to say "[Epic] didn't follow the proper appeals process"
    but AFAIK none of you have actually elucidated what the proper appeals process is under the law.

    EPIC has, with citations, laid out their case, starting on Page 14 [] (PDF)
    "Nuh uh" isn't an insightful or interesting rebuttal.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:10PM (#45457183) Journal

    Congress is working on what exactly? Amending the Constitution? That's what it would take to make any of this generalized warrantless surveillance legal.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:13PM (#45457219)

    Because the lower court cases establish the facts and legal questions at hand. They establish a record for the appeals courts to consider. It gives a change for more legal minds to consider it and provide input to the system. It also allows cases in multiple jurisdictions to more fully develop the issue. It also gives an opportunity for the political system to correct the problems - if there is one, without the court having to act. The case may resolve itself for various reasons.

    The thing to remember is that when the Supreme Court decides an issue, it is decided, for better or worse. You may not like the outcome, and the resulting precedent. That is why advocacy groups tend to pick their cases for appeal carefully, as well as their arguments. EPIC was reckless.

  • Re:Which is funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:16PM (#45457237) Homepage Journal

    Yes - you're right. The intel community is indeed trashing the constitution. But - if we are going to defend the constitution, then we need to do it in a constitutional manner. File suit, and win - OR, file suit, be defeated, appeal, be defeated again, appeal again, THEN argue your case in front of the Supremes.

    Hey, I don't really like it. It's time consuming, and wasteful, as you suggest. The only other way to put the NSA in it's place, is to have congress just pass some laws defining what is legal, and start defunding the illegal activities.

    The remaining alternative is wasteful in terms of human life, as well as money and material. Revolutions can be like that.

  • by lagomorpha2 ( 1376475 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:25PM (#45457325)

    "Even citizens with rights have to follow procedure."

    So what you're saying is in order to remove all our rights all the government has to do is make the procedures difficult and esoteric enough that no one could follow them? I hate to bring up Kafka in situations like this but this seems a bit too like something out of Kafka.

  • by deanklear ( 2529024 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:33PM (#45457421)

    According to a new report released Monday by the Sunlight Foundation, 78% of 2012 outside election spending can be attributed to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows unregulated amounts of corporate and otherwise outside campaign donations.

    Citizens United made it easier to buy important political offices in the United States. When you have a bought Congress, not much is solvable, because the elected paradoxically owe nothing to those who voted them in. We're nobody, but the people who dropped billions of dollars in the (D) or (R) buckets are somebody.

    It's not a coincidence that we have money for bloated and failing trillion dollar defense contracts [] and not a few billion to feed needy children. That's the predictable effect when the purpose of your government is something other than the welfare of its citizens.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:35PM (#45457435) Homepage Journal

    I thought it was obvious, but the majority of congress critters were unaware of how pervasive NSA spying is. A number of them were shocked to learn how powerful NSA has grown. It's not even really clear that the committee members responsible for national security understood.

    Some of those shocked congress critters are, indeed, exploring avenues to reign in the intel communities. Ineffectively exploring, for sure, but they are doing what their feeble little minds are capable of.

    But, there is a danger here, that we should all be aware of. Any congress critter who makes to much noise may be targeted by the NSA, and quietly blackmailed to shut the hell up. I really don't think the Secret Service can protect a congress person from the NSA and the rest of the intel apparatus. There is really no telling what has happened behind the scenes. Does kristallnacht ring any bells?

  • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by synapse7 ( 1075571 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:54PM (#45457603)
    I'm sure we will have done away with that pesky constitution before this issue makes it through the proper channels.
  • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @05:02PM (#45457695)

    OR... the NSA has their phones tapped (Actually that's a given fact at this point) and has all sorts of dirt on them.

    The problem is, this activity is so heinous, so contemptible, it threatens the very foundations that this country was built on. The fact that every branch of government isn't jumping all over this is highly suspicious to me. The NSA could be in the midst of a silent Coup d'état at the moment and none of us would know. That's how much power they wield. They could blackmail every member of government, every military leader, we'd have no idea. We cannot allow this to stand. It must stop immediately. It's sad that the supreme court values procedure over the constitution. It's like their house is on fire and they refuse to use the fire-extinguisher because the proper paperwork hadn't been filed.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @05:14PM (#45457835) Homepage

    Congress is working on what exactly?

    Fucking things up. What else?

  • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Monday November 18, 2013 @05:27PM (#45457941) Journal


  • Re:Which is funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday November 18, 2013 @07:01PM (#45458841) Homepage Journal

    Why is it that you can get arrested for smoking a joint, but when it comes to violating the constitution it seems that the worst punishment is "we'll cut your funding"?

    Because the CIA funds its black ops with money from drug running [], so it has to remain very illegal to keep the prices up.

    Who do you think is really controlling things, the Congress or the permanent bureaucracy that makes the outcomes of elections largely meaningless?

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva