By Jim Kouri
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will address a legal challenge to the controversial President Barack Obama’s National Security Agency surveillance program known as PRISM. The court is expected to announce on Monday if it will hear attorneys’ arguments in the controversial NSA lawsuit. In most cases, four of the nine justices must vote to consider a case, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-partisan. public-interest organization, on Sunday.
The justices originally met on Friday to consider a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to overturn the NSA’s program to collect records on all U.S. phone calls.
The EPIC Petition was distributed to the Justices last week along with briefs by former Church committee members and prominent scholars in information law, federal jurisdiction, and constitutional law, who all urged the Supreme Court to grant the EPIC petition.
Other civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are also mounting legal challenges to the NSA programs. But EPIC’s challenge is the only one to go directly to the Supreme Court.
EPIC’s lawsuit claims that the FISA court overstepped its authority when it granted the NSA permission to collect the phone records in bulk, since the Patriot Act only authorizes U.S. intelligence agencies to collect business records that are considered “relevant” to an investigation involving terrorism.
By allowing the NSA to use that provision to collect the records of millions of Americans without any ties to terrorism, the court acted outside of its own jurisdiction, EPIC argues in its suit.
Just recently John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, found himself confronting reports that the U.S. spies had eavesdropped on the cell phone calls of world leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to an Examiner report.
In Merkel’s case, there are allegations that her office telephone was also “bugged” by U.S. spies and that the NSA collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in European countries, according to an Examiner news story.
According to former Justice Department attorney, now public-interest lawyer, Larry Klayman, he and other plaintiffs have filed motions for a “preliminary injunction” against the NSA and other defendants in Klayman’s class action lawsuits (13-cv-881, 13-cv-851) concerning the agency’s growing spy scandal.
As a result, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the Obama Justice Department’s request to delay the process and ordered the NSA to respond to the motions.