- Created: Monday, 29 October 2012
- Written by Bill Olson and Herb Titus
On October 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty International. The Court will then decide whether Americans have standing to challenge a federal statute that permits the government to intercept their communications without suspicion of any crime, without a warrant, and with virtually no meaningful judicial oversight of any sort. Our law firm had the privilege of filing an amicus curiae brief in the Clapper case on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., U.S. Justice Foundation, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The case involves the 2008 FISA Amendments Act (“FAA”), which broadened the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”). For years, FISA has permitted the gathering of “foreign intelligence” outside the traditional legal safeguards associated with criminal law enforcement. Even before the 2008 amendments, FISA has allowed wiretaps so long as there was probable cause to believe that the target of the surveillance was a foreign power, or agent thereof. And, so long as the “target” is legitimate, all “incidental” information that is picked up has been fair game, even if that includes the surveillance of “U.S. persons” (a term which includes U.S. citizens) not suspected of any wrongdoing.