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Supreme Court blocks challenge to NSA phone tracking

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Supreme Court 1 (Verge Stock)
Supreme Court 1 (Verge Stock)

This morning, the Supreme Court declined to hear an NSA-challenging case brought forward by privacy group EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center). The case would have been the first major NSA case to have been brought before the Supreme Court, targeting the FISA court order for all of Verizon's phone records that was revealed this June. EPIC maintained that the court overstepped its statutory authority with the order, since the records specifically included calls made "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."

The call records were designated as "wholly within the United States"

The case had been controversial before reaching the court. The Obama administration has taken numerous actions to delay the hearing, filing a motion to route the case through lower courts, but EPIC maintained that only the Supreme Court had the proper authority to rule on the jurisdictional authority of the FISA court. Amicus briefs from the Cato Institute and former members of the Church Committee agreed, arguing the order was both inconsistent with FISA and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Unfortunately, the future of EPIC's case is unclear, but with the FISA order now a matter of public record, advocates hope they can bring the same fourth amendment issues before the court through separate channels. As EPIC lead counsel Alan Butler tells The Verge, "Now that this secret surveillance program has been disclosed, and now that Congressional leaders and legal scholars agree it is unlawful, we have a chance for the Supreme Court to weigh in."