Another attempt to rein in the NSA at the federal level bit the dust Monday.
The U.S. Justice Department ‘stalled’ a lawsuit brought against the NSA by Sen. Rand Paul and Freedomworks because an appeals court is already considering a similar case.
According to Politico, “Judge Richard Leon did not explain the rationale for his ruling but granted a Justice Department motion to halt the case while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considers the NSA surveillance issue in separate lawsuits brought by conservative activist Larry Klayman.”
Paul’s legal team argued that their suit was different because it was class action and represented all Americans impacted by NSA spying. According to Politico, placing the case on hold essentially blocks subpoenas and fact-gathering in the Paul/Freedomworks case.
Judge Leon found the surveillance program constitutionally flawed in the Klayman case, but the feds appealed.
With the Paul case on the sideline, and the Klayman case likely to end in a very disappointing manner, it seems pretty clear that reining in the surveillance-state through the court system has a low likelihood of success. Historically, federal courts show little interest in protecting the rights of the people. They almost always side with the powerful political class that put them into power. While the people claim victory at the district level, higher courts tend to defer to federal authority to a greater degree as cases climb the ladder, with Supreme Court particularly deferential to federal arguments, especially those centering around national security.
For example, Justice Scalia infamously said earlier this year that his court would likely keep the NSA’s illegal spying operation in tact. His rationale? It doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment because your electronic data isn’t specifically protected under “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” This is the type of tortured logic that has led to the constant erosion of our freedoms over the years.
Scalia doesn’t provide the only example. Justice Ginsberg once referred to the Constitution as an outdated document, urging foreigners not to take it into consideration when formulating their political charters. The Supreme Court’s poor example resonates down the line. The secretive FISA Court supposedly in charge of NSA oversight has accepted more than 15,000 applications from the agency it is supposed to be policing while denying less than a dozen since 2001, according to the available data.
Where are the checks and balances here? They simply do not exist.
Many question why Sen. Paul even bothered filing this lawsuit. Was it simply a publicity stunt to garner support for a possible presidential bid? Or was it a sincere, although doomed attempt to do something? We don’t know, but there was a positive. Paul’s lawsuit kept the NSA’s illegal spying operation in the public eye. But it was never going to actually drive change at the NSA. We said that from the start, and this proves us correct.
The courts, Congress, the federal bureaucrats and the rest of the political class in D.C. show little interest in actually limiting the surveillance state. That means we have to take matters into our own hands instead of hoping the political class to do the right thing. That is why the OffNow plan is so important. It allows you to get a movement to save our privacy rights started far away from the federal cesspool. Beginning in your own backyard, you can help to make it impossible for the NSA to exist in its present form.
Lawsuits generally accomplish little. Congressional reforms have proved just as feckless. Lawmakers generally draft bills in a vague, or even deceptive manner. Protests can be helpful, but not without a decisive plan of action backing them up. The OffNow strategy offers a plan for success that bypasses the Beltway and focuses on state and local action – where grassroots activism can prove much more effective.
Join us, and stand like a rock against the NSA’s currant of tyranny that is washing over America.