Lawyers For The One Case Where There's Proof Of Warrantless Wiretapping Decide Not To Appeal To Supreme Court

from the sad dept

We've covered the various twists and turns of the Al-Haramain case against the US government for a while. If you don't recall, click that link for some background. The short version is that this is the one and only case where someone has evidence of being a victim of a warrantless wiretap, and that's only because the government screwed up and revealed the evidence by accident. Other attempts to challenge the legality of warrantless wiretapping had all failed, because no one could show "standing" that they'd actually been harmed by the policy. But with the Al-Haramain case, with evidence in hand, and some initial wins, eventually the appeals court shot down the case, saying that the government could just claim sovereign immunity and get out of any lawsuit. In other words, the court gave the federal government free reign to do whatever the hell it wants in violation of the 4th Amendment, and even if it's revealed, gave them a massive get out of jail free card. I'm sure that won't be abused at all...

Now, the lawyers representing Al-Haramain have decided that they will not appeal the case to the Supreme Court, on the belief that the "current composition" of the court works against them. In other words, they believe that the current Justices on the court would side with the appeals court in rejecting their case, and then that would be precedent across the country (unless Congress changed the law, which it's unlikely to do). The "hope" then is that somehow, down the road, someone else somehow gets evidence that they, too, were spied upon without a warrant, and it happens in a different district, and (hopefully) that circuit's appeals court rules differently, setting up a circuit split. Oh, and that by the time that happens, the "composition" of the court shifts enough that the court actually respects the 4th Amendment. In other words: none of this is likely. Instead, the feds retain their ability to spy on people without warrants in direct violation of the 4th Amendment.

In other words, bye-bye 4th Amendment. It was nice knowing you.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

    Thanks for the context. The other article I read on this didn't provide any insight into why this made strategic sense.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Amazing, it seems like it's just one bash after another to the constitution. It's little more than tattered rags now.

    I want to say that there is some bright spot in this, in that maybe someday a similar case will spring up (it will eventually, the government screws up once, it will screw up a thousand times more) and that the court justices will be different. But it won't, the justices will continue to remain puppets to the current narrative.

    It's funny how such an integral part of our law depends on how several key people who we have no say over feel on any given day.

     

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    Adam, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    US Constitution

    Among the constitutions of democratic countries around the world, the U.S. Constitution is not held in high regard (Google is your friend) because it is nearly impossible to amend and is therefore badly outdated; based on the thoughts, mores and intents of people living more than two centuries ago. Have a squint at these examples chosen from the many in a Google search:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/we-the-people-loses-appeal-with-people-around-the-wo rld.html?_r=3&partner=MYWAY&ei=5065&

    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/02/10/is-the-u-s-c onstitution-obsolete/

    Some of the problems that arise when a defining document such as the U.S. Constitution is found to be irrelevant to the times are perhaps best exemplified by the current constipation of the Congress of the USA and the the gun laws of the US. Clearly, given that the 4th amendment seems to be dead in the US, the Executive has simply chosen to begin ignoring the parts it doesn't find relevant to today's problems.

     

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      Raybone (profile), Jan 5th, 2013 @ 9:41am

      Re: US Constitution

      best comment from your own links "The Constitution is not out of step with the world its the world that's out of step with the Constitution, the best guarantee of Individual Freedom from tyranny that has ever existed. It is worth defending till your last breath." Adam-" because it is nearly impossible to amend"..the Constitution has been amended many times and is a living document that grows with the times since the protections enumerated within are timeless and necessary for a functional free society. A free society which we have had for a relatively short time, considering the entire history of our human race. One which is currently being attacked from within and without. " thoughts, mores and intents" They had to compromise on slavery as it would have prevented union at a time of war..read the letters of the founders..they were smart cookies and well aware of 2000 plus years of political science and history. Check out the federalist papers (dry reading i know, but informative of the mindsets of these men). The right to bear arms is for us to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government..not so we can sport hunt, etc. " the Executive has simply chosen to begin ignoring the parts it doesn't find relevant to today's problems" which is treason to the oath these servants of the public swear when they start their terms. We have problems here indeed...but we have not had to endure true tyranny yet and I believe that is only due to the fear of reprisal by common freedom-loving Americans who are well trained and armed. The Big Lie works very well on Americans and that is the political criminals weapon of choice it seems today. Please reconsider your position in light of the contradictions you espoused in your post. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Jan 6th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

      Re: US Constitution

      > Among the constitutions of democratic countries around the world,
      > the U.S. Constitution is not held in high regard (Google is your
      > friend) because it is nearly impossible to amend

      That's not a bug, it's a feature, and a damn good one.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      btr1701 (profile), Jan 6th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

      Re: US Constitution

      > Among the constitutions of democratic countries around the world,
      > the U.S. Constitution is not held in high regard because it is nearly
      > impossible to amend

      That's not a bug, it's a feature, and a damn good one.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      Ninja (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:52am

      Re: US Constitution

      The US Constitution may not be perfect but it's VERY well written and concise. There are things that are atemporal. Freedom of speech must be upheld today and any day for eternity. And for what comes after it. The 4th Amendment purpose is to AVOID the usage of Governmental powers to pursue, threaten and destroy opposing voices. China comes to mind. They will wiretap, seize or do whatever they deem necessary against anyone who express dissent against the Government.

      The sources you mention are mere opinions. Regardless of how old or pointless is an Amendment the Government SHOULD NOT disrespect them but rather promote discussion and official ballots on any change. I can assure you that not many Americans will want to lose the protection the 4th Amendment provides and risking having their houses invaded by anti-terrorism-crazed police troops. And honestly, when you look at Kim Dotcom's case it's clear that such protections are needed.

       

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    gorehound (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 5:48pm

    Bye Bye 4TH Amendment ! Just the latest Assault we have seen.
    One day it will be Bye Bye Federal Government.

     

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    Ron Wild, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    US Constitution

    I am fully aware of the high regard and esteem that the American public hold the constitution, however, with all the various challenges to it from this violation of the forth amendment, the pro and anti gun lobbies fighting over the second and the Westboro Baptists arguing over their right to gate crash family funerals using the first amendment as justification, and there are probably many more cases that have not reached the UK media, perhaps it is about time to straight the lot with modern life, human rights, equality etc. taken into account. Let's face it if your surgeon was using a two hundred year anatomy book, you would be right to be cautious. Having said that, people are not happy at attempts to revise some of our nearly one thousand year old ludicrous laws. All constitutions and Monarchies should be totally revised every one hundred years, AT LEAST, in every democratic country, in order to stay relevant.

     

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      Ron Wild, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 10:59am

      Re: US Constitution

      For straight read rewrite via Kindle auto- correct.

       

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      nasch (profile), Jan 5th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

      Re: US Constitution

      I would be terrified of what our current politicians would come up with if they tried to rewrite the Constitution. Personally I'm glad it's hard to do.

       

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        Laroquod (profile), Jan 6th, 2013 @ 10:22am

        Re: Re: US Constitution

        Precisely so. The time in history in which government shows absolute disrespect for the rule of law, is exactly that time in which you don't want it rewriting those laws. The fundamental byword of our time is *disrespect*, and it will be wielded with extreme prejudice by the current powers that be, whatever their attempted works. Let us all hope those works will not include rewriting America's basic DNA. Let's save that for after the apocalypse because there will probably be a few decades after our so-called 'civilisation' has collapsed when disrespect for democratic institutions becomes extremely *extremely* unpopular due to half the planet dying as the result of corporate-captured government. *That* will be the correct time to rewrite the Constitution from scratch. At the height of the Era of Enron and the Long Financial Con -- this is the worst possible time to build or rewrite *anything*.

         

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      btr1701 (profile), Jan 6th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

      Re: US Constitution

      > probably many more cases that have not reached the UK media,
      > perhaps it is about time to straight the lot with modern life, human
      > rights, equality etc. taken into account.

      Yeah, it would be so much better if we were like the UK where people can go to prison merely for offending someone, or be arrested for making an off-color tweet.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 6th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    > But with the Al-Haramain case, with evidence in hand, and
    > some initial wins, eventually the appeals court shot down the
    > case, saying that the government could just claim sovereign
    > immunity and get out of any lawsuit.

    I still don't get this. The Supreme Court decided a hundred or more years ago that government can't claim sovereign immunity in matters of constitutional law, and even if it could based on common law, Congress waived the immunity by statute when it passed 18 USC 1983, which allows for civil suits against the government and individuals in their personal capacity for deprivation of civil rights under color of authority.

     

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