The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus (in layman’s terms, an order asking a government official to do, or stop doing, something) to overturn the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s decision to invade the phone records of every American. Accusing the NSA of “acquiring a haystack to go looking for a needle,” EPIC soundly argues that FISA orders for productions have to: 1) relate to, 2) a specific, authorized, 3) foreign investigation, and that the NSA cannot meet any of those three points.
Since the FISA court is not an “inferior” court to the U.S. District Courts or U.S. Courts of Appeals, EPIC filed their petition directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, s it is the only court that directly (by Constitutional decree) has oversight.
In Re: EPIC (.pdf)
Perhaps this one of those cases that the SCOTUS is legally compelled to hear.
But, if they refuse. IT’S O V E R ! The SCOTUS will have abrogated it’s authority to exist.
They aren’t “compelled” to do anything more than say “no,” but I strongly think they will do much more than that. The one way that they could punt it is to say that EPIC is incorrect that they cannot first appeal to the FISA Court or FISA Court of Appeals. EPIC’s motion for a writ of mandamus is predicated on the law saying that’s not allowed, but my reading of the FISA Court’s rules leaves me less than 100% certain. But, even if SCOTUS rules that they must petition the FISC first, a SCOTUS ruling that a target of a FISA order can appeal it is still a huge step forward.
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