In the wake of the most recent revelations about NSA data mining, two groups have filed lawsuits against the federal government. One is the ACLU. The other is Freedom Watch, which is Larry Klayman with a P.O. Box. The ACLU is thinking strategically in their case:
The suit filed Tuesday argues that the phone tracking system detailed in The Guardian violates freedom of speech and privacy rights, with the ACLU arguing on its own behalf as a Verizon customer. The group wants the National Security Agency’s surveillance program stopped, and for all its records to be purged.
The case is aimed at the Supreme Court, where it would pose a challenge to a 1979 ruling that found no expectation of privacy when sharing information with a third party, and build on some of the doubts the court expressed in 2012 about that decision’s relevance in the current technological era.
“If this [NSA phone surveillance] came up to the Supreme Court with this Supreme Court, they would declare it unconstitutional,” Laura W. Murphy, the director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, said Thursday at an event hosted by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is considering signing on to the group’s suit…And based strictly on existing Supreme Court case law, says George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, the group’s arguments are “weak.”
But even skeptics of the ACLU’s chances concede the potential for progress. Snowden’s leaks may not lead to a wholesale dismantling of the NSA’s dragnet surveillance efforts — but the revelations could force the high court to reevaluate its interpretations of privacy law.
And this time around, says Kerr, “the ACLU’s goal is probably to get discovery” — to force the government to declassify more information about the programs — “not to win.”
KLayman’s two cases (one against PRISM and one against the Verizon data mining program) ask for more than $20 billion in damages. And I’m sure they’ll be up to Klayman’s usual standards for quality, which means they’ll be full of political boilerplate and invective rather than sound legal arguments. Maybe he can get one of his citizen grand juries to hear issue more useless “indictments.”