February 28, 2013
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court disemboweled the Fourth Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that citizens cannot challenge government wiretapping laws, in particular the unconstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and, more recently, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
According to Justice Samuel Alito, millions of Americans can no longer expect the government to uphold the Constitution and prevent the NSA from conducting dragnet surveillance.
The government established so-called “sovereign immunity” last August when the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco dismissed Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama following a December 2010 court case ruling the NSA’s warrantless wiretap program was illegal.
FISA is a near perfect scheme for the government. It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to rubber-stamp surveillance requests of supposed terrorists (the Justice Department claims there are over a million terrorists in America). The feds are not obliged to identify a target and they can conduct surveillance a week before making a FISA Court request. Surveillance can continue in the unlikely event that a request is denied and an appeal is set in motion.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Patriot Act. It allows federal agents to write their own search warrants in violation of the Fourth Amendment and does away with the FISA-issued search warrant requirement, itself blatantly unconstitutional.