Skip to comments.Supreme Court Refuses to Take on NSA Metadata Case
Posted on 04/07/2014 9:15:07 AM PDT by xzins
The US Supreme Court is chickening out and taking a step back from the entire NSA scandal. Rather than making a final decision on whether the bulk telephone metadata surveillance program is constitutional, the Supreme Court has decided to decline the case.
Instead, the Court has now left lower courts to contradict each other over the legality of this particular NSA surveillance program. One court, for instance, has described the metadata program as an almost-Orwellian effort.
In fact, this particular petition brought to the Supreme Court concerns precisely a decision given out by US District Judge Richard Leon, who also wrote that in his opinion, Americas founding fathers would be aghast at the spying practices.
Political activist Larry Klayman skipped the Appeal Court and went straight to the Supreme Court, saying that this is a case of imperative public importance, so it should immediately get the attention of the highest court. It should be mentioned that the Supreme Court doesnt normally pick out cases before they go to the Federal Appeal Court.
The decision to ignore this particular case comes just before the White House is expected to come up with a series of more drastic reforms for the National Security Agency. So far, these reforms have extended to restricting the NSAs access to the records and having a third party hold them rather than the agency itself, as if that will fix the issue generated by the initial collection.
Most people dont really expect big changes in the way the United States conducts surveillance considering its weak response thus far and clear unwillingness to make any real changes.
The future of the telephony metadata collection program will most likely be decided by politicians rather than judges. There are several important bills awaiting in Congress, including some that will considerably cut down on NSAs surveillance powers.
The intelligence community has been lobbying the Congress not to pass the bill, but social pressure might eventually pay off and the bills could still pass.
One of these bills has been written by Jim Sensenbrenner, the same man who wrote the Patriot Act, which the NSA uses to hide behind whenever it explains why a certain surveillance program is legal. Sensenbrenner now wants to set things right and make sure theres no loophole to be used by the intelligence agencies.
That says it all. It's a clear 4th amendment case.
Too many intercepted messages, I suppose, among the 9 justices.
This court needs to deal with this. Maybe next year with a different case. They had no problem jumping in to cases about the treatment of foreign prisoners at us facilities in the Bush years and helped sort out allowable and disallowed practices. The same should be true here. Lines need to be drawn and the bureaucracy is not doing it effectively.
“You take this case and we will spill the beans about X, Y, and Z....”
The Supreme Court is OWNED!!! Obamacare taught us this valuable lesson...
Can’t blame them. Can you imagine the crap the NSA has collected about them? Everyone is in fear of the nsa, congress and the preezy included.
Obviously, the majority on our pathetic SOTUS has something to hide. At least this avoids the embarrassment of having Chief Wimp Roberts issue another blatantly unconstitutional ruling as in the ObamaCare tax debacle.
The 4th paragraph in the article says it all ... SCOTUS normally doesn’t accept cases that haven’t gone through the lower courts. Wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.
That kind of threat is not only very real, given the Petraeus case, but it is a reason this case should be heard, so that such legitimate accusations could be put to rest. The NSA can operate as a secret police, so they MUST be held to a higher standard.
When the nation has a secret police, then thoughts of abuse and conspiracy are not illogical or irrational. They are completely valid questions.
Rand Paul has this right. I’m not with Paul on a number of his positions — especially amnesty — but he is right on the 4th amendment. There must be a warrant and it must be for EACH American citizen listened to while they are in the 50 states.
I agree with Klayman.
This is the 4th amendment. Scotus is the arbiter of the constitution. This is of immediate, national importance. Violations are happening as we type.
They know Obama and the NSA are on to all their dirty little secrets.
No reason to actually render a decision backing the NSA when they can accomplish the same thing this way.
SCOTUS has failed to do it’s job. Fine, it’s on the American People now. They better not say a word when the poop starts flying.
“Too many intercepted messages, I suppose, among the 9 justices.”
One can only imagine the files on the Supremes that NSA,FBI, IRS, CIA, DEA, ATF and -—* have in their computers.
* fill in the 3 letter blank for any omitted snoop agency.
Roberts was the worst mistake Bush ever made.
Yes, they are very reluctant to set Constitutional precedent on anything other than a thoroughly developed record. And that's the way it should be.
How can it possibly hurt to order that the 4th amendment must be followed?
Roberts fooled all of us
Agreed that Roberts has turned out to be a disaster.
But Bush’s worst appointment by far was David Souter—now fortunately retired.
How can they get away with this?
The Supreme Court is like a referee on a football field. The Congress, the President, the state police, and other government officials are the players. Some can pass laws, and others can enforce laws. But all exercise power within certain boundaries. These boundaries are set by the Constitution. As the “referee” in the U.S. system of government, it is the Supreme Court’s job to say when government officials step out-of-bounds.
Souter was appointed by Bush Sr.
The problem with Roberts is that he’ll probably be the chief justice for the next 30 years.
Roberts was the worst mistake Bush ever made.
Yes. I often pondered a some sort of mechanism for a popular impeachment of justices. The Founders grossly underestimated the judiciary’s capacity for mischief.
Nut-job Conspiracy Theory Ping!
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This has been an extremely poorly reported story and it presents a completely new issue for which there is no precedent on point. How does the 4th Amendment deal with computer metadata? Is it like a pen register that gets no constituional protection or is it like a wiretap that does?
The answer should not be a shot from the hip, but a thoughtful decision based on a thoroughly developed record, perhaps after several Circuits have ruled. A direct appeal from a single district court decision is not a good idea.
“How can they get away with this?”
They are either cowards or lazy, or most likely both.
They also refused to hear the gay marriage case.
They probably just want to keep their schedules open so they can go golfing with the kenian.
Because if in doing so they step in and circumvent the lower courts they setva horrible precedent and open the doors to circumvent the lower courts that much wider.
With a Conservative Court, that sort of thing would work for us. With a Liberal Court not so much, and we’d all scream bloody murder about it. Just like we did when the Dem Congress eff’d with all sorts of precedent to ram Obamacare through, and as we did when Reid and the Senate Dems pulled the trigger on the nuclear rule.
Which the Caliph will ignore, as he ignores any law that does not suit his purposes.
I don’t think there’s anything to develop. The NSA is getting warrants or they aren’t. That’s either a violation of the 4th amendment or it isn’t.
Let them rule and not stall.
Or he'll take one word out of paragraph 4(a)(1) "listen", and enforce that.
And I’d add that altho Larry Klayman may have done a lot of good things, and I may agree with him most of the time, he’s still very much a drama queen. Throwing a hissy fit over not being given a special express train to the SCOTUS is yet another example.
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What I'm told by my IT people is I need to scrub every document I send someone because if I don't they can read my metadata. That doesn't sound like we have any reasonable expectation of privacy in what we put out on the internet and if not there is no Fourth Amendment protection. Do you want the Court to rule on that basis?
It's GOOD to have files on everyone...
Rule #1: no one is allowed into any position with any real power unless they are thoroughly compromised. Judges included. I’ve had opportunity to see some judges who, once obvious and blatant abuse of a defendant’s rights is exposed by police and/or prosecution, will tear them a new one at the bench or sidebar. Not because he was looking out for the defendants rights, but because the judge knew he was going to have to rule in favor or the prosecution in order to cover up that abuse because someone needed their ass covered. At some point in the future, students of history will look back on our “just us” system for the pile of hypocrisy and fraud that it is and wonder why it was allowed to go on for so long.
It’s not going to get cured easily.
Darn you! That’s a much better graphic than the one I posted!
Yes but even worse is making Roberts chief justice. Bush should have made Clarence Thomas chief justice.
Feel free to use it any time you want!................
They are as political as the rest. Biased, cowardly, imposing their will on the masses when they can get away with it.
Appointed for life, senile, affirmative action’d, yet they still can’t take a moral, Constitutional stand.
Actually, COtanker, the definition of metadata isn’t the issue. The issue is the government’s bulk collection program. What the program is collecting we will call X. Is what they are collecting, X, a violation of the 4th amendment or isn’t it?
Technically, metadata is data that describes data or “data about data”, but recent revelations have shown that they are collecting bulk data, that is, everything.
So, the issue is the total of X that they are collecting.
I don't really know what metadata is, but I am told if I don't electronically scrub my documents my metadata can be read by anyone I send them to. If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in metadata then reading it is not a search and there is no 4th Amendment violation.
This is a big, new issue and the Court will need to decide it fully informed. I sure don't feel ready to make a judgment about it.
So, if collection program, X, included the content of your cellphone conversations, then you would have no problem with it, since you’ve broadcast over a cell frequency, and that, therefore, is in the public domain?
proved useful when Ocare came before the court....
There are no checks and balances now. The Rat senate does whatever their Rat leader says. The House GOP just pays lip service. Everyone in government is getting rich; no reason to stop the gravy train.
Ever wonder why we’re losing every time? I mean, shouldn’t a court case or house vote go our way now and then? No, not when you consider that the “long march through the institutions” as succeeded. What ever meager wins we get will only be to keep most of us somewhat pacified.
We’ve been playing a rigged game. We’re a laughing stock.
I told you I don't know enough about the metadata issue to take a position on the issue. A good first step would be knowing what it actually is, which given the decrepit state of American journalism I haven't seen.
Sadly, this is not the system the Founders established. Constitutional changes in taxation, election of senators, and election of president, have removed from us very important checks and balances.
I bristle, demshateGod, when I hear "3 branches of government".
That is SUCH a misrepresentation.
The US Constitution clearly speaks of 5 branches of government.
We have written out THE PEOPLE and THE STATES. The Constitution does not do that.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We the People: 1st Branch of Government -- The People
Union: 2nd Branch of Government -- The States
To make sure this wasn't missed, the Founders clarified in the Bill of Rights their clear intent by closing out with the final word, the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Very fair response, CoTanker. My point is that the case is not about a term “metadata”, but it is about a collection program and ALL that it collects no matter what name some people might to apply.