SCOTUS rejects challenge to surveillance law
The Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge from civil liberties advocates and journalists over the government's sprawling surveillance dragnet codified in 2008 legislation. The case, Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, challenged the 2008 federal law that authorized the government's interception of international communications involving Americans.
The justices voted 5-4 that the plaintiffs, including journalist Chris Hedges and Amnesty International, lacked standing in the case -- arguing, essentially, that concerns about a legal framework that might allow for future surveillance were insufficient evidence of harm caused by the law. “They cannot manufacture standing by incurring costs in anticipation of non-imminent harms," wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority decision.
The plaintiffs had sought a First Amendment challenge against The FISA Amendments Act -- a law that retroactively legalized the government's warrantless wiretapping program, which had "begun in secret and without congressional authorization under the Bush administration," as HuffPo's Matt Slegde noted. The law permitted the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies to read emails and listen in to calls without a warrant when they are targeting foreign nationals.