The US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit has overturned a decision to award two attorneys damages and legal fees after they claimed they were subject to illegal wiretapping. The case involved two lawyers for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, who were previously awarded $40,800 in damages and $2.5 million in legal fees due to being illegally surveilled as part of the US government's Terrorist Surveillance Program. However, the new ruling claims that the pair can't recover either the damages or fees because when Congress wrote the law it didn't explicitly waive sovereign immunity.
"al-Haramain can bring a suit for damages against the United States for use of the collected information," explained Judge M. Margaret McKeown in the decision, "but cannot bring suit against the government for collection of the information itself." The lawyer for the two attorneys, Jon Eisenberg, told Wired that he may petition the Supreme Court on the decision. "This case was the only chance to litigate and hold anybody accountable for the warrantless wiretapping program," he explained. In May the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case challenging whether the wireless wiretapping law is unconstitutional.