Yesterday (3/21/11) the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision reinstating the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a statute that gives the executive branch virtually unchecked power to collect Americans’ international e-mails and telephone calls. The District court had previously dismissed the suit in August of 2009 on the grounds of lack of standing. The original law suit was filed on behalf of a coalition media organizations, attorneys, human rights and labor organizations.
The appeal was supported by, among others, the NYC Bar Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The appellate court found that:
the FAA has put the plaintiffs in a lose-lose situation: either they can continue to communicate sensitive information electronically and bear a substantial risk of being monitored under a statute they allege to be unconstitutional, or they can incur financial and professional costs to avoid being monitored. Either way, the FAA directly affects them.
The case will now return to federal District Court for trial.
In a press release issued today, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said:
The government’s surveillance practices should not be immune from judicial review, and this decision ensures that they won’t be. The law we’ve challenged permits the government to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications, and it has none of the safeguards that the Constitution requires. Now that the appeals court has recognized that our clients have the right to challenge the law, we look forward to pressing that challenge in the trial court.
Good news that.