On June 11th, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s surveillance program. The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the program violates the First Amendment rights or free speech and association, the right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, and that the surveillance program exceeds the authority provided by the Patriot Act.
ACLU, a customer of Verizon, made the following comments:
This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens.
It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissible limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.
The complaint can be accessed here.
via ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of NSA Phone Spying Program | American Civil Liberties Union.
The District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania allowed a case challenging the Ten Commandments monument to proceed.
This case arises from the installation of a large stone monument in front of the Valley High School. Plaintiffs argue that this is a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibiting the government from endorsing a religion. The district court refused to remove the Ten Commandments monument. The district’s argument is that the Ten Commandments monument is a historical landmark.
The district asked the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. The District Court denied the motion, stating that the case has “sufficient merit” to proceed to the discovery phase.
via Judge refuses to dismiss Ten Commandments case | TribLIVE.
This is an interesting decision, allowing the first and fourth amendment claims of Port Militarization Resistance, an anti-war group, to go ahead.
The lawsuit arose when allegedly two civilian U.S. Army employees (Towery and Rudd) spied on the anti-war members and secretly disrupted protests. The anti-war group was protesting the use of sea ports in Washington State for shipments of military supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lawsuit alleges defendants befriended the anti-war group and “influenced and directed” tactics to disrupt protests without cause, and that defendants broke into a confidential attorney-client list serve.
The district court dismissed most of the claims, but allowed First and Fourth Amendment allegations against Towery and Rudd to go ahead, despite their motion for qualified immunity. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
The Ninth Court stated,
“It is clearly established that intentionally enabling arrests without probable cause in order to suppress speech violates the First Amendment,” the unsigned and unpublished opinion from Seattle states.
“Plaintiffs have pled a plausible violation of their clearly established First Amendment rights,” the ruling states. “Plaintiffs have alleged that defendants ‘deterred or chilled the plaintiff’s political speech’ and that such deterrence motivated defendants’ conduct.”
via Courthouse News Service.