WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back a challenge to a federal law that broadened the government’s power to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails.
The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote that divided along ideological lines, probably means the Supreme Court will never rule on the constitutionality of that 2008 law.
More broadly, the ruling illustrated how hard it is to mount court challenges to a wide array of antiterrorism measures, including renditions of terrorism suspects to foreign countries and targeted killings using drones, in light of the combination of government secrecy and judicial doctrines limiting access to the courts.
“Absent a radical sea change from the courts, or more likely intervention from the Congress, the coffin is slamming shut on the ability of private citizens and civil liberties groups to challenge government counterterrorism policies, with the possible exception of Guantánamo,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at American University.
(More at the link. Cross-posted from Occupy Underground.)