The U.S. Supreme Court last week blocked The ACLU, & Amnesty International’s lawsuit challenging federal authorities ability to spy on American citizens’ communications at any time without a warrant.
In a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines, the court decided the plaintiffs, which included the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and other activists, journalists and lawyers, lacked standing to sue the Director of National Intelligence over a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) because they couldn’t prove they have been harmed by the law.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, rejected the challengers’ argument that the law would violate their Fourth Amendment rights sometime in the future. Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a dissenting opinion that such theoretical harm is “as likely to take place as are most future events that common-sense inference and ordinary knowledge of human nature tell us will happen.”
The American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer called the decision “disturbing.”
“The FISA Amendments Act is a sweeping surveillance statute with far-reaching implications for Americans’ privacy,” said Jaffer in a statement. “This ruling insulates the statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans’ privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches.”
The FISA amendment, which passed secret Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, began following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011. The entire practice was brought to light by the New York Times in 2005. The legislation legalized much of the Bush administration’s practices and has drawn a great degree of ire from free speech and civil liberties activists. Congress voted to extend the FISA amendment for an additional five years in December of last year.
The FISA amendment, which supporters cast as a legislative weapon against terrorists, expanded the government’s ability to monitor citizens’ phone and electronic conversations without a warrant in the US and abroad when there is ‘evidence’ those conversations involve “foreign intelligence information.” All of this is allowed now completely without your knowledge.