High Court Let’s Telecoms Keep Immunity in NSA Spy Case [allgov]
October 13, 2012 Leave a comment
The U.S. Supreme Court has put an end to lawsuits against telecommunications companies for helping the Bush administration spy on American phone calls and emails.
During the height of Bush’s war-on-terror, the National Security Agency (NSA) gained access to the electronic systems of AT&T and other telecoms. The illegal surveillance outraged civil libertarians who filed more than 30 lawsuits, which prompted Congress in 2008 to grant retroactive immunity to companies aiding the NSA.
The lawsuits were eventually consolidated into a single case. But because of the immunity law, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to overturn the decision.
As a last resort, lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing the retroactive immunity was an “unprecedented violation of the separation of powers” because it shielded the executive branch from being held accountable in court.