Supreme Court Still Not Ready To Hear Case Challenging NSA Surveillance

from the not-yet,-not-yet dept

While the Supreme Court Justices seem to recognize that they'll eventually need to determine the constitutionality of the NSA's surveillance efforts, for now it's not letting cases about it jump the line to be heard. Back in November, it rejected an attempt by EPIC to skip the long process of first getting district court and appeals court rulings, and bring the issue straight to the Supreme Court. And now it's done the same thing in a case that tried to skip the appeals court step.

As you may recall, back in December, district court judge Richard Leon ruled that the program was likely unconstitutional in a case brought by Larry Klayman, but then agreed to stay the ruling until the inevitable appeals process played itself out. Klayman decided to take a shot at going straight to the Supreme Court, saying that the "case is of such imperative public importance that it justifies deviation from normal appellate practice and requires immediate consideration and determination in the Supreme Court."

The Supreme Court, however, appears to disagree. That doesn't mean it won't eventually hear such a case (potentially even this very case). But it does mean that the Court is in no rush to take on the constitutionality of the NSA's surveillance efforts, and will let the process play out in various district and appeals courts over the next few years.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:02pm

    uphill battle

    If the Supreme Court were to rule against Obama's NSA, I don't see how it would in the end make any difference. Trying to compel government agencies that operate in complete secrecy to do something against their will seems like fighting a losing battle.

    As in President Andrew Jackson's famous scoff at a Supreme Court ruling he didn't like:
    "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:06pm

    Supreme Court, I am disappoint with u. Do you not care about the Constitution of USA?

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Guardian, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:23pm

    the supreme court of the usa is being blackmailed

    the supreme court of the usa is being blackmailed, they got some serious shit on them old gezers....don't kid yourself

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:35pm

    Re: uphill battle

    Better the uphill battle than no battle at all.

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    Michael Donnelly (profile), Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:37pm

    They've taken much less contentious cases directly from district court in the past.

    If I didn't know better, I'd say the bench was afflicted by the same "do not upset the guys with the money" malaise that seems to have paralyzed the other two arms of our government.

    Oh, wait, I do know better. That's totally not it.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 9:53pm

    Re: Re: uphill battle

    But whenever the outcome of a contest of any kind is pre-determined, isn't it all just a big waste of time and money for all the people who thought they had a fair chance of winning?

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Beech, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:22am

    Phew, almost had the Supreme Court doing it's goddamn job there for a minute. Can't be having that. They have more important and more nuanced cases to decide, like "Whether 42 U.S.C. § 1981 prohibits a retail establishment from treating a customer in a racially discriminatory manner" or "Whether a document from a state or local government stating that an application has been denied, but providing no reasons whatsoever for the denial, can satisfy the Communications Act's “in writing” requirement."

    I mean, it's not like those cases should have been slam dunks or anything that never should have gotten to the supreme court. It's not like ALL of us are being spied on ALL the time or anything.

    Seriously, the Supreme Court has been nothing but rage fuel for me recently. I'm honestly shocked everytime I hear about a SCOTUS ruling that I actually agree with.


    (source for those cases i quoted above: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/petitions-were-watching/)

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Violynne (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 3:43am

    I wonder if anyone sells a sticker of Calvin pissing on the Constitution. I'd like to alter the design a bit, changing his recognized striped shirt and update it with SCOTUS Judge on the back.

    Checks and Balances, my ass.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:14am

    Must stick to the rules of the game!

    While it is lamentable that the SC does not want to hear right away any cases about the constitutionality of the various NSA cases, it is also understandable that they want the process to be done correctly.

    I mean, it's like being in a long line, and jumping to the head of it just because you think you should.

    It doesn't mean that you're correct to do it.Because the basis for the rulings have to be established, it will take some time for a case to get to the top.

    That means no shortcuts, no jumping to the head of the line while ten other cases with similar arguments are being done in the lower courts.

    It's called due process in other words. One step at a time.

    After all, this is about the legality of the laws invoked. Taking shortcuts to the end does not establish precedents.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Quiet Lurcker, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    Respectfully disagree. Art. III, Sec. 2, to the U. S. Constitution grants to the Supreme Court original jurisdiction - they can actually try the case, rather than simply review - in cases involving 'public ministers and consuls', or words to that effect. Essentially, government officials. Since this matter directly involves the president, the attorney general, and other governmental officials, the supreme court could - and in my PERSONAL opinion - should hear the case directly.

    Sadly, SCOTUS is playing politics with this and several other cases of late.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    They are just waiting until the lower courts muddy the case so they can comment on some asinine facet of the prior rulings rather than grow a pair and make an actual ruling about the underlying facts themselves.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re: Re: uphill battle

    no matter how many people attempt to make it so, no outcome is pre-determined.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Edward Teach, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    Hear! Hear!

    Avast, ye swabbies! What Master Coward hath stated!

    Seriously, what has happened to the US Supreme Court? When That Swine Reinquist took over, they would often make a serious statement. Now, they quibble over technicalitites.

    Or are we just seeing thing? Does anyone have any serious references to how dickbones like Clarence Thomas and Scalia have changed what the Supreme Court rules and what it says? Or is this typical for SCOTUS? Narrow, constitution-shaving rulings, always in favor of "law enforcements" and big business are the norm, and we're living at the very tail end of a time when civil liberties were actually taken into account?

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Anything to buy time...

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    jim, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Unconstitutional

    If they know they must hear it at some point and that people's rights are likely being violated not hearing it makes it illegal as they are allowing people's constitutional rights to be violated by their inaction.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Re: uphill battle

    What makes you think they'd rule against it? The supreme court hasn't shown much willingness in recent years, to actually decide cases in favor of the "little people".

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    Or is this typical for SCOTUS?

    From what I hear about SCOTUS, it's new. They used to be willing to take issues on and rule about the core of what's being contested. Since Roberts, it seems to me, they've tried to rule as narrowly as possible, and try to make their decisions based on a technicality around the margin to send it back to an appeals court without actually ruling on the substance of the case.

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 10:16am

    Re: Unconstitutional

    not hearing it makes it illegal as they are allowing people's constitutional rights to be violated by their inaction.

    And what law are they breaking, then?

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    From Findlaw, which is pretty reputable when talking about legal shit-
    Source:
    http://litigation.findlaw.com/legal-system/how-does-the-u-s-supreme-court-decide-whether -to-hear-a-case.html

    Factors the Court Considers When Choosing Cases

    Every year, the Supreme Court receives about 10,000 petitions for certiorari, but only hears about 80 of them. While no one really knows why some cases get heard but others do not, the Supreme Court has several factors that it considers when deciding what cases to hear:

    1.The Court will Hear Cases to Resolve a Conflict of Law: The U.S. judicial system consists of 13 federal circuits and 50 state supreme courts. When a number of these courts reach different conclusions about an issue of federal or constitutional law, the Supreme Court may step in and decide the law so that all areas of the country can then operate under the same law.
    2. The Court will Hear Cases that are Important: Sometimes the Court will consider a highly unusual case such as U.S. v Nixon (concerning the Watergate tapes) or Bush v. Gore (concerning the extremely close election in 2000), or a case with an important social issue, such as abortion in Roe v. Wade.
    3.The Court will Sometimes Hear Cases that Speak to the Justices' Interests: Sometimes Justices give preference to cases that decide an issue in their favorite area of law.
    4. The Court hears Cases when Lower Courts Disregard past Supreme Court decisions: If a lower court blatantly disregards a past Supreme Court decision, the court may hear the case to correct the lower court, or alternatively, simply overrule the case without comment.

    There's also this little known rule-The Rule of Four:
    Source:
    http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-rule-of-four.htm

    The rule of four is a custom of the United States Supreme Court that dictates that, if four justices decide that a case is worthy of being heard, the Court will agree to hear it. This rule is designed to ensure that the court's majority cannot control which cases are heard, as without it, the minority justices might find themselves unable to try cases of interest.

    Now, again, which one of these rules did this case compare to?

    From what I can see, none of them-and for all intents and purposes, that's the end of this case. He's just going to have to wait until some more circuits rule against or for one the exact same grounds before this gets to the Supreme Court.

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Must stick to the rules of the game!

    Now, again, which one of these rules did this case compare to?

    From what I can see, none of them


    This case isn't important?

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: the supreme court of the usa is being blackmailed

    So, the SC is being blackmailed, and according to numerous other comments, the executive and the legislative branches are also being blackmailed.

    The idea that everyone in government is being blackmailed seems like a pretty huge stretch to me. But even if it's true, it means absolutely nothing. A person being blackmailed is just as responsible for his actions as someone who is not being blackmailed. It excuses nothing whatsoever.

    While it may be a fun thing to contemplate, it's purely recreational. Seriously contemplating it gets us nowhere.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Edward Teach, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Unconstitutional

    Oh, fer cryin out loud! Don't be a lawyer. The Justices all took an oath that binds them to behave better than "strictly legal". Why, I wager that even compromised ideologs like Thomas and Scalia believe in "higher causes". Although it's hard to detect what any Justices after Bork actually believe...

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Unconstitutional

    Oh, fer cryin out loud! Don't be a lawyer. The Justices all took an oath that binds them to behave better than "strictly legal".

    I won't argue with that, but jim said "illegal" so I was wondering what law he thought they were breaking. That is what illegal means after all, not "failing to live up to our ideals".

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:44pm

    Not a surprise

    The Supreme Court is buried in cases; far more than it can reasonably hear. It's not taking a case that can be decided by a lower court, until the issue is ripe for decision at the Supreme Court.

    That only happens when the Appeals court is clearly wrong, when different Appeals courts disagree, or (very rarely) when an issue is especially urgent.

    So it's not a surprise they've refused to hear it now. Despite our frustrations, it's not urgent enough to require them to decide yet.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    doesn't really matter, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 7:23pm

    Waiting for the right case

    It seems to me that since the SCOTUS is specifically bound to evaluate the *facts* and *evidence* in a given case against the constitution and existing law, they might not wish to take on this particular case because they find that the facts and evidence present aren't necessarily compelling enough to move forward. If that is true, I speculate that they are waiting for a better case to rule on, given the stakes.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 10:18am

    Not yet, this time

    "This case isn't important?"

    It is only important in so much as it is one of many cases trying to be the one that gets the SC to finally rule on the constitutionality issue.

    When "important" is measured by the Court, cases like US v. Nixon, or the Pentagon papers case will almost always be heard quickly and without too much notice primarily because the government has a very heavy stake in the outcome. In those cases, the matter of timeliness, prompt presentations and fairly swift rulings in them were justified.

    Mind you, they were all decided correctly, but I wouldn't want to bet the same would be true today with this court, which has become a corporate tool.

    I almost fear the day when the issue of the NSA comes forward. They might give us the finger once again.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.