Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Fourth Amendment v. National Security
This blog tends to focus on the usual police domestic Fourth Amendment issues. However, there are lots of issues out there in the area of national security.
In 2008, an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allowed intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on overseas communications,(including e-mails, calls) more broadly and with less judicial oversight than in the past.. Now, the U.S. government does not have to submit (to a special judge) an individualized application to monitor a non-American overseas. The U.S. attorney general and director of national intelligence can ask for mass surveillance authorizations from the judge. This is basically a warrant procedure except that the usual 4th Amendment requirement of “particularly describing” is clearly not satisfied. There are also issues about the applicability of the Fourth Amendment in at least some of the situations.
The ACLU sued the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. The case is slowly making its way through the judicial system. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear whether the Plaintiffs have standing (legal authority) to challenge the act. They will not decide on the constitutionality of the law--at least not yet. The name of the case is Clapper v. Amnesty International U.S.A..