In a 5 to 4 decision, strictly along ideological lines, the United States Supreme Court threw out a challenge to the FISA law which allows for warrant-less wiretapping by the government of our phone calls. On January 2, 2013, we reported that the United States Senate agreed to extend this law for another 4 years. The law specifically allows the United States government to intercept international phone calls without a warrant. Today the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. based journalists, attorneys and human rights groups lack the standing to challenge this law since they cannot show that they had suffered any injury as a result of the law. Warrant-less wiretapping was started by President George W. Bush after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011. The program was ended in 2007 but the next year Congress reinstated the warrant-less wiretapping program by enacting the FISA law. At the beginning of this year Congress extended the law for another 4 years. Today the Supreme Court effectively ended any legal challenges to this law. The majority opinion, written by Justice Alito, takes a very narrow view of standing. This is especially troubling because the Supreme Court, mostly led by the conservative justices, have taken a rather broad view of standing in the past. The same Justices who are critical of the government taking a more active role in health care have no problem with the government listening in on our phone calls without our permission and without a warrant. To make matters worse, the standing position, adopted by the majority, was effectively advocated by the lawyers for the Justice Department and supported by President Obama. Who says that the parties can’t agree on anything in Washington? I guess the liberals and conservatives are on the same page when it comes to warrant-less wiretaps.
James Dimeas is an award winning criminal defense attorney and author with more than 24 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in felony cases. If you have a felony case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.