Federal judge dismisses government surveillance suit for lack of standing

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted summary judgment Monday in favor of the government in CCR v. Obama, ruling that the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lacked standing to challenge the legality of information obtained by Bush-era warrantless surveillance programs. CCR argued that the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) and Protect America Act (POA), which allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap suspected terrorists without a warrant, chilled the CCR’s ability to speak freely with its clients and probably intercepted communications that were subject to the attorney-client privilege. Judge Vaughn Walker, noting that the TSP was discontinued in 2007 and the POA expired in 2008, ruled that CCR lacked standing to challenge the programs since it could not show its communications had actually been intercepted as required to state a claim under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or that it had suffered any harm.

Walker explained:

“In short, plaintiffs have not shown that they personally have suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct, especially in light of the clear precedent requiring that the allegations of future injury be particular and concrete. Plaintiffs have therefore failed to establish standing for their First Amendment claim” [citations omitted]. CCR Senior Attorney Shayan Kadidal expressed displeasure with the ruling, saying [press release], “It is astonishing that President Obama’s administration continues to fight to hold on to the fruits of a patently illegal surveillance program, even where that surveillance was directed at attorneys engaged in suing the government.”

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