Unreviewable: Legal Challenges Against NSA Falter

Surveillance May Never Get Its Day in Court

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court refused a petition to rule on the NSA telephone surveillance program. They gave no justification for that position, they just said no.

The Justice Department had argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to rule on the surveillance, and while the court didn’t explicitly agree with them, saying nothing is a de facto concession of that point.

Later yesterday, another US District Court was hearing the Justice Department argue against hearing another challenge, insisting that the secrecy of leaked documents makes it “impossible” to prove that the victims of surveillance have any standing to challenge that in a court of law.

That’s an argument that seems to work regularly with judges, who simply shrug and throw out the case. As NSA scandals continue to grow, lawsuits aren’t going anywhere, and the Justice Department’s position suggests that the court system may simply never review any of the agency’s misdeeds.

Instead, the status quo may simply be too entrenched for the courts to even touch, and Congress may be the only realistic avenue to attempt reform. The problem then is, if the NSA simply ignores Congressional reforms, the courts don’t seem willing to do anything about it.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.