Congress’s Work in the Supreme Court
With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the mid-Atlantic, the executive branch of the federal government will be closed on Monday, October 29th. But the judicial branch is carrying on with business as usual.
Monday morning’s argument is an important review of Congress’s work on national security. In Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, the Court will hear argument on whether anyone can challenge the Government’s warrantless interception of international communications such as telephone calls and e-mails under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
The Government argues that the plaintiffs in this suit don’t have the right to sue because they haven’t been affected by the law. The plaintiffs say they have enough reason to think they might be affected that they have a case.
The case started in the U.S. District Court in New York, and that court agreed with the Government. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, though, finding that the plaintiffs have standing to sue in a court of law.
The parties have filed their briefs with the Supreme Court, as have many amici—”friends of the court” who want their particular perspectives understood. All that’s left is the ceremony of argument by the leading lawyers on the case before the nine-Justice Supreme Court.
We’ll find out in a few months how the Court is going to resolve this problem. It could go too far in one direction if it lets people with speculative or fanciful injuries bring claims in federal court. It could go too far in the other if it allows the government to maintain a program that violates Americans’ rights but that can’t be stopped because it’s secret.