Why Isn’t the Supreme Court in a Hurry to Challenge the NSA?
Justice Antonin Scalia indicated at a March talk at Brooklyn Law College that the U.S. Supreme Court was very much attuned to the significant constitutional questions posed the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs, noting that his fellow justices were well aware that legal challenges of the NSA’s data collection were headed to the country’s highest court. When asked by a student whether the conservative-leaning Scalia considered data stored on computer drives to be an example of the type of “effects” covered by the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable” government searches, the justice responded with one syllable. “Oh,” he said, with the cryptic response suggesting he did not want to prejudice the issue. He did, however, comment that the judicial branch is the least “competent” arm of government to assess the effectiveness of and the necessity for intrusive electronic spying of the sort carried out by the NSA.
A recent move by the high court reaffirms Scalia’s evaluation. In an April 7 order, the court revealed a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgement filed by a legal advocate Larry Klayman against President Barack Obama was denied. That means Klayman’s attempt to fast-track the lawsuit that he claimed was so urgent is over. Klayman has claimed that the security agency’s collection of telephone data was a breach of individual’s constitutionally protected privacy rights. His argument even persuaded a trial judge to agree that the programs probably violate the privacy rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
As Bloomberg reported Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s December ruling called the NSA spying program “almost Orwellian” in nature.