Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that none of the plaintiffs in American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency have standing to challenge the program and dismissed the case. Judge Batchelder wrote the opinion for the court. Judge Gibbons delivered a separate concurring opinion, and Judge Gilman dissented. I can virtually guarantee that this is not the last we have heard of this case.
UPDATE: From Judge Batchelder's opinion for the court:
in crafting their declaratory judgment action, the plaintiffs have attempted (unsuccessfully) to navigate the obstacles to stating a justiciable claim. By refraining from communications (i.e., the potentially harmful conduct), the plaintiffs have negated any possibility that the NSA will ever actually intercept their communications and thereby avoided the anticipated harm — this is typical of declaratory judgment and perfectly permissible. But, by proposing only injuries that result from this refusal to engage in communications (e.g., the inability to conduct their professions without added burden and expense), they attempt to supplant an insufficient, speculative injury with an injury that appears sufficiently imminent and concrete, but is only incidental to the alleged wrong (i.e., the NSA’s conduct) — this is atypical and, as will be discussed, impermissible.From Judge Gibbons concurring opinion:
Therefore, the injury that would support a declaratory judgment action (i.e., the anticipated interception of communications resulting in harm to the contacts) is too speculative, and the injury that is imminent and concrete (i.e., the burden on professional performance) does not support a declaratory judgment action.
The disposition of all of the plaintiffs’ claims depends upon the single fact that the plaintiffs have failed to provide evidence that they are personally subject to the TSP. Without this evidence, on a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs cannot establish standing for any of their claims, constitutional or statutory. For this reason, I do not reach the myriad other standing and merits issues, the complexity of which is ably demonstrated by Judge Batchelder’s and Judge Gilman’s very thoughtful opinions, and I therefore concur in the judgment only.And from Judge Gilman's dissent:
My colleagues conclude that the plaintiffs have not established standing to bring their challenge to the Bush Administration’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP). A fundamental disagreement exists between the two of them and myself on what is required to show standing and whether any of the plaintiffs have met that requirement. Because of that disagreement, I respectfully dissent. Moreover, I would affirm the judgment of the district court because I am persuaded that the TSP as originally implemented violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).And:
The closest question in this case, in my opinion, is whether the plaintiffs have the standing to sue. Once past that hurdle, however, the rest gets progressively easier. Mootness is not a problem because of the government’s position that it retains the right to opt out of the FISA regime whenever it chooses. Its AUMF and inherent-authority arguments are weak in light of existing precedent and the rules of statutory construction. Finally, when faced with the clear wording of FISA and Title III that these statutes provide the “exclusive means” for the government to engage in electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the TSP was unlawful. I would therefore affirm the judgment of the district court.